Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia – an autonomous community of Spain. Located on the Mediterranean Sea, it is the second largest Spanish city with a population of around 1.6million people. Barcelona is perhaps best known for its sporting links – in 1992 it held the Olympic Games and its main football side, FC Barcelona, is one of the biggest in the world.
Barcelona is one of only a dozen teams to have won the Champions League on more than one occasion – most recently in 2006 when they remained unbeaten throughout the entire tournament, a feat only matched by Manchester United in 2008. Their two victories are, however, overshadowed by rival Real Madrid’s record of nine cup wins.
Their Spanish rivals also have the upper hand in Spanish Premier League La Liga titles – winning by 31 to 18 – but Barcelona have won the Spanish cup 24 times, which is more than any other side in the country.
Football is often criticised for the amount of money involved. Whether it’s how much the club spends on transfer fees and player wages or the cost of tickets and merchandise to cover these outgoings, the general consensus is that it’s too much.
During the 2006/07 season, Barcelona was listed as the third-richest club in world football but the club has dented the claim that all clubs are money-grabbing. Rather than have a company pay money to be their shirt sponsor – an easy way to generate income for the club and one that is undertaken by almost all professional sides these days – Barcelona announced in 2006 that the logo of children’s charity UNICEF would appear on their strips. They agreed a five-year deal which would see the football club donate a small percentage of its income to a foundation set up in partnership with the charity.
This trend has now begun to spread to other clubs. Aston Villa announced that they would advertise Acorns Children’s Hospice for the 2008/09 season – it is the first time a Premiership club has used a sponsor in this way.
Both clubs have received a lot of positive press following their decisions and many hope that others will follow in their footsteps and help those in society who most need it.
Despite the loss in revenue, both teams still have enough income to make big money signings to stay competitive in their respective leagues. Indeed, Barcelona remains one of the biggest clubs in the world and is constantly looking to challenge for the La Liga title and Champions League honours.
Recent stats show around 25% of Spain’s population support the Catalan giants and millions more follow them around the world, often flying to the city and staying in hotels in Barcelona just to watch them play. It’s a huge boost to local tourism and the more money that is spent on the club, the more that they donate to charity.