Yutang Sports interviewed the Global Business Development Director and Managing Director APAC at FC Barcelona, Mr. Jordi Camps, and learned Barça’s recent plans and moves.
Yutang Sports: What can Barca gain from the Asia Tour? Many European clubs did it in the same way, what makes you stand out from other clubs
Camps: First and foremost, the Summer Tours are designed to allow us to get closer to our fans, who may not otherwise have the chance to see the team play a live game during the normal season. In Japan, we estimate that we have about 6 million potential fans and to get the opportunity to connect with them – and not just through the games but also through content created in Japan, for Japan on our Japanese language channels (e.g. Twitter).
Of course, the football is football and the 90 minutes that we spend playing the game will always be similar to other European Clubs, but it’s what we do outside of the match days during the Tour that make us different.
If we look at the Japan Tour, there are several ways that we illustrated that we are ‘more than a club’. We brought the FC Barcelona Rugby team out with us – Rugby is one of 9 amateur sports and 5 professional sports at FC Barcelona and in a year of the Rugby World Cup, it felt appropriate. We held a special event with the Barça Foundation and Konami, connecting with 200 kids to promote social inclusion of kids with different intellectual, visual and auditory abilities. Through our Barça Academy and partners Rakuten, we held several youth clinics with the help of Academy coaches and a Barça legend (Juliano Belletti), to help engage with youth development in Japan. We had the President of the Club and several board members with us on Tour, helping us to connect with local media and businesses, not least through our Espai Barça project and Barça Innovation Hub.
Commercially, the Tour allows us to understand the market better and for the market to understand us better.
Yutang Sports: China is a special market in aspect of media, but there are quite a lot of fans who follow football online through digital media and social media. How will Barça utilize its advantage of social media?
Camps: Digital is incredibly interesting for us and has huge potential. We’re already one of the biggest sports clubs on Chinese social media channels and they are so unique and so different to the western platforms that we’ve set up resource in Hong Kong and agency support in Shanghai to help us with this.
Specifically, FC Barcelona officially announced its brand-new Chinese website in March 2019, this is another important step for the club to better engage with fans in the China market. The Chinese website will provide exclusive content to fans including club news, fixtures, results, match videos, etc., and will develop more interactive functions in the future such as Barça member system, match quiz and prize-giving interactions. With the club motto "Més que un club", Barça aims to engage with fans in a diversified way, and to provide a high-quality and unique Barça football experience for Chinese fans.
Through the launch of the Barça Chinese official website, the club will further improve strengthens its digital matrix touchpoints in Chinese digital market, providing Chinese fans with better entertainment football content on social media platforms including Weibo, WeChat, Tik Tok and Toutiao. In the future, we will look to build with a more interactive and personalised experience.
Yutang Sports: Barça has set up many youth training academies in APAC region and the club also launched the Barça Academy Asia Cup, which involved several Chinese academies. Why does Barça put so much money and effort into youth development?
Camps: The Club is not only looking to do business in the market, but also contribute to develop football in the country and therefore we need to understand the specific trends of this sport in this territory so we can work in the right direction. At the same time, we are looking to expand our Barça Academies in the country. We consider this is the best way to transfer our football philosophy to fans, especially to kids. We believe that football is able to make a better society and we would like to contribute as well to this objective.
We are a Club that do not want to train athletes, but rather train people. FC Barcelona is an essentially sporting entity. But, as sport also represents a very powerful tool for educating our young people about values, the Club emphasizes the training of people, of citizens.
Currently we have: 6 Academies in China: Haikou, Qingdao, Chengdu, Kunming, Lijiang, Yunnan (Fuxian Lake), 5 of which are operational at the moment (all except Fuxian). We have trained 15,000 kids to date through our regular programmes, camps and special school and government led projects. If each of the kids who train with us become FC Barcelona fans, then that’s an additional positive!
Yutang Sports: Barça has launched the Barça Experience and Barça Academy Haikou in Hainan, what does that mean for your business development in China? and what are the new plans to the future?
Camps: Let’s start with the Barça Experience – this is the first dedicated FC Barcelona museum outside of Barcelona. It’s really significant because it means we have a tangible, physical Barça product in China – we can get much closer to the fans and a way to generate revenue through tickets and also the retail store we have there. It takes us closer to the B2C model that we’ve spoken about.
The Academy Pro in Haikou is one of only two ‘Academy Pro’ globally and essentially it means we are investing 50:50 with our partner, Mission Hills Group. We believe we can contribute to developing football in the country and therefore we need to understand the specific trends of this sport in this territory so we can work in the right direction. Our strategy is to partner with well-known and prestigious companies that could help us to expand our brand more locally and adapted to the territory. At the same time we are looking to expand our Barça Academies in the country. We consider this is the best way to transfer our football philosophy to fans, especially to kids. We consider football can help to make a better society and we would like to contribute as well to this objective.