What: Barcelona open up their 45th academy in Puebla, Mexico.
Why it matters: Barcelona expand their football influence in the Americas and continue their global initiative to grow their brand of football.
Barcelona Goes in For Mexico
It has certainly been a busy few weeks for Barcelona FC (@FCBarcelona). Earlier this week La Liga announced that the elite club would play Girona in Miami in January, making the first time two European clubs would play a regular season match in the United States , which followed last week’s announcement of the opening of their new academy in Puebla, Mexico. The newest Barcelona academy is the 45th football school for the La Liga leaders and the 23rd academy on an American continent. Between North and South America, Barcelona has eight academies in the United States, six in Canada, three in Colombia, two in Brazil and one each in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. The Puebla Academy’s inauguration was oversaw by the director of Barça’s Academy Project, Carles Martin.
The Barça Academy has been the club’s model for youth soccer development with the main goal not to find the next “Messi” or “Iniesta” but rather, “to grow the Barça brand and transmit the work ethic and values of the Club around the world.”
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More Than A Club
The academies under Barcelona have recently undergone a makeover. Earlier this year, the academies changed their names from “FCBEscola to “Barça Academy” (https://bit.ly/2LQBhdp).
Escola is Catalan for school, a nod to the Club’s roots and region, but the rebranding was done in an attempt to boost the club’s presence and improve marketability in North America. The newest academy keeps the Club on par with Barcelona FC’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu’s vision to make Barcelona the most prominent sports entity in the world by 2021.
Speaking to NBC Latino last year on Barcelona’s global strategy to expand its own brand and grow the sport in the Americas, the former Business Development Director for Barcelona’s New York office, Arturo de la Fuente said “We are proud to say that we are a Catalan club, but més que un club is the mentality of the club; we develop human beings, we are socially responsible.”
The famous club motto has always symbolized regional Catalan pride. But Bartomeu’s global strategy has demonstrated that the club’s philosophy is not geographically bound to any country, nation, or city.
The Barça Academy has been the club’s model for youth soccer development with the main goal not to find the next “Messi” or “Iniesta” but rather, “to grow the Barça brand and transmit the work ethic and values of the Club around the world.” Such work ethic and values include the idea of playing beautiful football for one’s community and not only for money or glory. It is this trademark of Barcelona that resonates with US parents who want their children to take a holistic approach to the game. Hispanic communities are and have always been an integral part of the club’s overall strategy given the cultural ties and the amount of Latino players that have played and currently play for Barcelona. Players such as Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, and Brazil’s Coutinho. This new academy in Puebla, Mexico reaffirms how important these communities are as Barcelona FC continue to push its global initiative. Perhaps even more importantly, both moves show Barça’s two pronged approach to North American growth, expose the club directly into the marketplace with a historic match, while building a future generation with elite grassroots efforts.
Now that’s smart soccer business.