Why Barcelona is everyone’s second favourite team

19 Comments

Barca LogoThe Barcelona Football Club has broken with tradition in a significant way in the last week. Never in its storied history has the club carried the emblem of a corporate sponsor as the frontispiece of its shirt. Barça has stood almost completely alone in this (Atletico Madrid is the only other hold out in Spain); every other major European club—in fact, just about every club you care to think of—has carried a major sponsor on its shirt. Try to imagine, for instance, Essendon without the ubiquitous "3" symbol, or the Rabbitohs without the "TV Week" logo, or for that matter the great Milan sides of the 90s without the "Opel" emblem on the front of their shirt.

Barça has joined the ranks of those who advertise, but not in the way one might expect. In keeping with its tradition of being "more than a club, Barça has unveiled a sponsorship deal with a difference—and it has raised eyebrows and garnered further plaudits for a club which is already well loved and respected the world over.

Barça has come to an agreement with UNICEF, the UN agency founded in 1946 in response to the needs of children all over Europe following the end of World War II. UNICEF has worked in 157 countries worldwide since its formation, helping children who are living in poverty to survive, providing vaccines, and helping to provide access to such essentials as drinking water and food.

In return for carrying a major sponsor’s logo for the first time in 107 years, you might ask how much Barcelona is being paid. The answer is not one cent. In fact, Barcelona has also agreed to pay UNICEF around $2.5 million dollars a year for the privilege. As Barça president Joan Laporta said when addressing the UN in New York recently, “FC Barcelona is not only a football club, but a club with a soul.”


The deal is staggering, for a number of reasons. This must surely be the first time that a club has paid someone to have their logo on their shirt. In mid-2005, rumours were swirling about with claim and counter-claim being made that the club might break with tradition and allow a sponsor. The Barça members were known to be opposed. The actual premium a first sponsor might have had to pay would have been significant. It is now a moot point. But for some idea of the sort of money Barça has turned down by making this deal with UNICEF, one need only look at the income of its nearest rivals.

Real Madrid, the hated (Castilian) rivals, has a deal with BenQ from which they reap $35 million a year. Manchester United have in recent months signed a deal with American firm AIG worth $141 million over four years. Chelsea rakes in $25 million a year from Samsung, and Juventus (ironically toiling in the Serie B this year due to its match fixing in recent years) make $37.5 million a year from Tamoil, an oil company owned by Libya, but based in the Netherlands.

The Barcelona deal is stunning. How often is this much advertising revenue refused, let alone given away? On top of this, and the financial contribution that will be made to UNICEF, Barça has agreed to “provide support (for) UNICEF activities through its players, promoters and members”.

As President Laporta said at the UN assembly, “Barça and UNICEF can go a long way to improving life for many children around the world." Could this be the beginning of a new trend for sporting clubs around the world? Time will tell. The cynical among us might simply say that this is the football club executive softening up the all-powerful Barça membership (Barça is owned by its members) for a time when a commercial sponsor might be brought on board.

On the other hand, Barça, like most major sporting clubs, is not short of money these days, with massive revenues coming from TV deals, shirt sales, European and domestic competitions, off-season tours, and of course the 100,000 or so people who go Barca - UNICEFto the Nou Camp every second week to watch the Blaugrana in action.

Jimmy Burns' excellent biography of the club, Barça, makes abundantly clear how the club has always sought to be a little different—after all, how many clubs have, as representatives of a region or state, petitioned a national government for independence, as Barça did in the 1930s. They subsequently had their President murdered, and the actions of the club’s leadership contributed to the commencement of the civil war. It’s somehow difficult to imagine the Eagles, or perhaps the Lions, petitioning Canberra in the same way!

The UNICEF deal shows FC Barcelona for what it is—a forward thinking club, with a long, proud history, and a strong commitment to social justice, and making a difference to all the children of this global community.

 

 

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Existing comments

Most of the money will focus on Swaziland where nearly 80% of the population is hiv infected.

Andrew Carter | 20 September 2006


The club has initiated anew way of sponcering by wearing the logo and also paying for a good couse. Let other wealthy clubs and associations follow the lead shown by this club.Congradulations for the club.
Venkatesha Murthy D. | 21 September 2006


What a wonderful story - this is why I read ES, not to watch people killing each other over someone else's opinion that differs from the mainstream (binoy)... keep up the good work, Ed!
Aurora Lowe | 21 September 2006


Thanks Aurora, your kind words mean a lot! All credit to Barca, I say, for being so bold, and giving back some.
James Massola | 21 September 2006


BARCELONA ARE MY ALL TIME FAVOURITES
DANIEL | 03 October 2006


barca you are my favorite team specialy messi,ronaldhino and messi is the best
ali | 07 May 2007


barca is the best at first

bmw also
wissam | 29 August 2007


amazing. great insight and awareness and intelligent appraisal
rheard | 06 September 2007


el barca es el millor i pudrem guañyar sempre mes que el madrit pudrit guañyarem guañyarem
mariona | 21 September 2007


Its true more than a club.

Always a Barca Fan!
Faisal | 24 September 2007


hey thanks for putting this web barcelona is the best team in the wourld to me my team has the same jersey and evrything i captain of my team my favorite player is ranaldinho i would of got its number but i got 14 t- henry number.
memo | 29 November 2007


I beg to differ slightly. Barcelona is team that I love and it's not second best, it is the best there was, there is and there will be. What makes the club special is the close relationship that the club enjoys with its fans. Unlike some other clubs, Barca is truly a fan's club and not a corporates'.
Pinaki | 11 March 2008


j'aime bien barcelona
mehdi | 14 August 2008


hola

stevem | 14 August 2008


messi is the best i love him

nuca | 29 September 2008


The best team ever.
Ayub owino omoro | 09 December 2008


beautiful barca!!
kishan | 27 May 2009


True, Barca has taken another direction and is setting an example. A club with heart. We also focus on creating and stars and not only buying them. One fact is not true though, it is not Atletico but Athletic Bilbao.
Johan Gester | 20 June 2009


sur barcelone is for us
DJ PHILO KARIARA FONDO | 14 December 2011


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