Remember when FC Barcelona was mes que un club? For decades, the Cules stayed above the fray of jersey sponsors. The azulgrana kit remained sacrosanct. Then, a few years ago, the club donated the front of the jersey to UNICEF, a worthwhile organization. Two years back, the club signed a deal with a foundation from Qatar. Now, the club has announced adios to the foundation, and, instead, an airline will grace the front of the shirt.
As a Real Madrid fan, I am both sad and laughing in fits.
Why the tears? Well, the Barcelona shirt-shift still pales in comparison to the Real Madrid Middle Eastern resort real estate deal. We also have built a comfortable lingerie-gap. So, no, Barca is not nipping at our tails in terms of commercial deals. I am not sad to see Barca boost its revenue as compared to Madrid. Rather, I’m sad because Barcelona is losing its moral authority. Before, the Cules could lose, but never lost their soul. They weren’t sell outs. Now, when they lose, the club will have to fall back on their other “we are morally superior arguments.” None of them convince me.
First, the club says that they grow their team in the cantera. For this generation, yes. La Masia has produced some quality. For the Dream Team? Stoichkov – not canterano. Koeman – not canterano. Laudrup – not canterano. For the Dinho era? Ronaldinho – not canterano. Deco – not canterano. E’too – not canterano. Henry – not canterano. Thus, when Barca loses and fans clamor about “building the right way” with the academy, remind them of the exorbitant fees for the Maradona and Schuster transfers.
Second, the club says that they represent Catalonia. Well, Catalonia is divided politically as a region. Lots of folks don’t support independence. Thus, any statement in support of secession alienates many Catalans. Also, when I hear about “supporting secession,” I imagine Puyol, Pique, Pedro, and Xavi attaching rocket ships to towers along the Catalan border, just waiting to lift off and physically lift up Catalonia and relocate to another preferably Mediterranean destination. Thus, this argument does not exactly convince me.
So, I’m sad to see Barca sell out, but also to hear these future unconvincing arguments. Why am I laughing in fits? Well, a rival that purports to be “more than a club” is behaving like a club. Is it time for a slogan change? Perhaps “igual que un club” or “un club”?