Barcelona FC reaches into New York City and U.S. market
La Liga, Updated:
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FC Barcelona is a football power that is extending its reach across the ocean to the United States to not only grow its reach but to also extend its fan base.
The Spanish club recently opened an office in Midtown Manhattan and now has soccer academies in Charlotte and Florida. More is to come. Barcelona is not the first team to branch out. Liverpool has a handful of youth academies from Dallas to Detroit.
Barcelona is using its appeal as a football power to reach a new set of youthful fans that watches its games on television and purchases its gear on line. President Josep Maria Bartomeu is getting ahead of the globalization trend that is hitting sports.
For example the NFL plays at least two games a year in London where it has played before packed houses. One team, usually Jacksonville, is willing to give up a home game because of low attendance. The NBA has expanded its reach by talking about a league in China and holding clinics in Africa, Europe and Asia.
Now Barcelona is doing the same.
"Of course we were already working with companies in the U.S. we were opening soccer schools in the U.S., and it was time to be here permanently,' Bartomeu told Sports Illustrated. "We have a lot of fans, a lot of people who love football in the U.S. and they love Barcz and opening this office means we want to be with them, we want to be closer to them and we want to extend our relationship with them."
Barcelona introduced itself to New York by holding a gala with super star Ronaldinho, vice presidents Jordi Cardoner, Jordi Mestre, and Manel Arroyo and Bartomeu along with woman's player Line Roddik Hansen.
Barcelona also has an office in Hong Kong so that it operates on a 24 hour cycle. The United States will provide it with great marketing opportunities. The club already has working relationships with U.S. companies Gatorade, Stanley Black & Decker, Nike and Gillette.
It is also big in the United States on the Internet. This country is second only to Spain in terms of social media followers with 7.5 million. More than 275,000 of them are in New York City. Barcelona has fan clubs in New York, Washington, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco and Charlotte.
There is also speculation the club will move an office to Brazil.
"Now, for the first and more than ever, we shall be in the two biggest markets," Arroyo said in a statement. "Asia and America on a permanent basis and with the tools we need to consolidate our position as a global entity.
"New York will not be the last office that we open. We fervently believe that we need a greater presence in China and the southern Cone of South America. Brazil is one of our strategic targets and we are sure that these new will be decisive for sustaining the club's position among the top three clubs in the world."
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