INTERVIEW- FC Barcelona Aims to be the World’s Largest Sports Team, and LatAm is its Springboard

What: Portada spoke with Arno Trabesinger, FC Barcelona’s Managing Director Americas, about the Spanish club’s expansion plans for Latin America.
Why it matters: Last September, FC Barcelona opened new offices in New York, in an effort to boost its growth throughout the American continent, with a special focus on Latin America.

Arno Trabesinger

Since FC Barcelona Director Ramón Adell’s arrival two years ago, the team has embarked on the road to globalization. "We want to be the most global team of all sports, and Latin America is the base because soccer here is already [the] number one [sport]," said Arno Trabesinger, FC Barcelona’s Managing Director Americas.

To fulfill this goal, FC Barcelona is looking to solidify its presence in Latin America in 2017 through strategic efforts. "Latin America is very important for us, due to the fact that we have so many fans following the team in the region," added Trabesinger.

Latin America is very important for us, due to the fact that we have so many fans following the team in the region.

According to the team’s social networks analysis, Mexico is the second largest country with the largest number of followers worldwide on the club’s Facebook page, surpassed only by Indonesia. In Latin America, Mexico is the largest, followed by Brazil and Colombia.

COUNTRY CONTINENT REGION FACEBOOK FANS (21 mar - 2017)
Indonesia Asia Asia Pacific 9,611,980
Mexico America Latam 6,128,601
Brazil America Latam 5,858,192
Egypt Africa Mena / North Africa 3,639,034
India Asia Asia 3,553,152
United States America North America 3,478,937
Bangladesh Asia Asia 2,620,188
Colombia America Latam 2,464,470
Argentina America Latam 2,373,952
Turkey Europe Europe / (Mena) 2,359,360
Spain Europe Europe 2,327,154

In Mexico, football fans follow their favorite local team, but also support and follow one or more European teams, explained Trabesinger. "That's where we want to be number one. In addition, we have nine Latin American players on our team, so that gets us more fans in the region."

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The goal now is to take advantage of the attention that the club already has to keep it growing. In addition to its social networks strategies, which are dictated from Barcelona, "a relevant marketing tool for Latin America is the team’s soccer schools for children ages 8-16. We have several already in Peru, Guatemala, Brazil, and Mexico, and we want to open more throughout the year," he added.

A relevant marketing tool for Latin America is the team’s soccer schools.

These schools represent an opportunity for brand development and brand building among children and young soccer fans.

Looking for more sponsors

Growing its network of followers is undoubtedly one of Barça’s objectives, but "growing our business opportunities" is also a goal, said Trabesinger.

In 2015, the team signed a regional agreement in Latin America with Canada’s Scotiabank, which will run through the 2018-2019 season. It also has local sponsorship deals with foot deodorant brand Baruel Tenysa Pe in Brazil, and with Tecate beer in Mexico, in addition to its global sponsorship agreements with Nike, Gatorade, Gillette, and Stanley Black & Decker.

"We are looking for partnerships in Latin America, especially in Mexico and Brazil. That's why we came to New York, to strengthen our LatAm efforts from here," he explained.

The club seeks to add marketers to its New York office who know the Latin American market well, and know how to bring together partners in this region.

When adding brands, the most important thing is that they support the philosophy of the club. "We want sponsors who are proud to be part of the family, and are interested in activating at the local level," said Trabesinger.

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In addition, the team wants to sign agreements lasting a minimum of three to four years. "We want partners who will stay with the team in the long run," he said.

We want partners who will stay with the team in the long run.

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Ximena Cassab @xcassab

Ximena is a Swiss-Mexican journalist based in Mexico City where she specialized in business, and travel topics. Graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), she has worked as an editor at the magazines Expansión , Aire and Accent, from Expansion Group. Currently she is working with different media in Spanish and English independently. She is a passionate traveler who does not miss the opportunity to see a new place in the world.

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