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FC Barcelona teams up with Chinese firms

By Fan Feifei | China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-27 09:32

How do you see the Chinese soccer industry developing in the future? Will there be an opportunity to bring in some Chinese players to your club in the future?

The sport has grown exponentially since President Xi Jinping outlined the plans and objectives for soccer in China. We know from third-party data that about 31 percent of the urban population aged between 16 and 59 are interested in soccer.

However, it will be a long process for China, but there's no reason why the country can't succeed with the ambitious plans and resources. We are willing to support this by contributing to improving player experience both locally and internationally, sharing knowledge through our coaching systems, building facilities adjusted to the sport and athletes' needs, like we have done in Haikou.

We recently brought a team to Kunming in Yunnan province for LaLiga Hope Cup and won the competition, and that's something we're keen to continue, not only giving our FC Barcelona youth teams the chance to experience China, but also allowing young Chinese players to interact with a Barca youth team.

Do Chinese fans differ from those in other countries when watching soccer matches or buying peripheral products?

All Barca fans around the world have something in common - a love and passion for the club and the way we play soccer. Of course, there are nuances in the way that fans watch soccer matches and news, and that's exactly the reason why we have international offices, employees and global partners. They help us understand the local markets.

In China specifically, we know that a lot of fans choose to follow their favorite players over a specific club, and fans consume the majority of their soccer content through digital platforms like Weibo and WeChat. More than 90 percent of fans watch games at home, whereas in Europe, a lot of fans will watch the games in bars. Smartphone penetration, particularly in urban areas, is extremely high so we need to think "mobile first" in everything we do in China - experiences, content, news, merchandise and ticketing.

What is your business management philosophy?

I place huge importance on three things: consistency, transparency and leading by example. In FC Barcelona's case, this means making sure everything I do is aligned with the club's values: humility, effort, ambition, respect and teamwork. I recognize that we have a team of exceptionally talented individuals working in their own fields of expertise. Sports is a complex industry and we need to rely on and trust in each other to make sure we make the right decisions. This means giving people a degree of autonomy and being honest with ourselves.

How do you motivate your international team?

I apply the same management philosophy to the international team as here in Barcelona. It's important to understand the motivations of the individual - just like you would with a soccer player. What motivates that individual? What are they passionate about? What do they want to achieve?

We believe that we have a lot to offer. Our mission is to be the most admired, loved and global sports institution - note the use of the word "global" in that statement. First and foremost, anyone who works at FC Barcelona must understand our club, our history and our values. However, as FC Barcelona attracts more and more international fans, we need more people who understand international markets, and understand that this great club can offer something to people all over the world. Even though our international teams may be thousands of kilometers away from Barcelona, we try to ensure that they feel as much a part of the club, part of the family, as the people based here.

Do you know about the Chinese Super League and the Chinese players?

Well, we know about the CSL, of course, and monitor the growth of the league from afar. The league is getting more competitive and they've been able to attract some huge global talent in recent years, both players and coaches, which has improved the visibility of the game all around the world. There have also been some notable players from the CSL coming to Europe, which also shows that the standard of the league is getting stronger.

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