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Blwe_torch

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Barcelona have big academy plans for India
« on: June 07, 2011, 10:17:02 AM »

Barcelona have big academy plans for India
Siddharth Saxena, TNN | Jun 7, 2011, 02.31am IST

Barcelona players celebrate after beating Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final match at Wembley Stadium in London, on May 28, 2011. (AFP Photo)
NEW DELHI: Football super club Barcelona, irresistible masters of passing and movement, are now eyeing the potentially lucrative Indian market.

Soon, there could possibly be an Indian version of the renowned La Masia academy and schools imparting the style of football that the club is famed for. And if all goes right, Pep Guardiola and his team could be showing up in your neighbourhood stadia for their pre-season tours by 2013-14.

In addition, Barcelona and Real Madrid have proposed moving up kick-off times in the Spanish league to grab more eyeballs in the Asian TV market, revealed Javier Faus, vice president, Financial, Economic and Strategic Area at FC Barcelona, in an exclusive interview to TOI.

"To have the best players in the world to win the World Cup, to win three Champions League in six years ... you have to optimize your resources. In the same way we go to India to tap the potential," Faus said of the plans of the world's second-highest grossing football club (405 million euros, Rs 2,649 crore last year) within the next five years.

As part of their immediate plans, a high-level delegation is scheduled to visit India shortly and assess the market dynamics here. "Our president Sandro Rosell will lead a team to India in September. We need to know how can the FC Barcelona brand can be expanded in the Indian market and what does it demand from the European clubs," he said.

After dismantling Manchester United, arguably the most followed club in India, in the Champions League final, Barcelona insiders have claimed that their next quest is to knock United off their perch in the subcontinent.

"We are analyzing our strategic plan on how we tackle the Indian market for the next five years," said Javier Faus, the club's vice-president.

Despite a their near-total domination over Europe, Pep Guardiola's team whom many claim is the best to ever have been assembled in the sport's history, has not managed to grab eyeballs in India - possibly the largest growing market and viewership pool after China. The reasons are many; from delayed kick-offs to poor recall of the stars that play in Spain.

That Barcelona boasts of eight World Cup players and the world's best player, Lionel Messi in their ranks, becoming the most popular team with an enviable Indian and Asian fan-base, has not happened. Faus concedes: "The Spanish clubs, not only us but the rest of the Spanish clubs as well, we are behind the English clubs in exposure in India and also in Asia," but he was confident the trend will change.

"You have to remember the English prominence in India, for over a hundred years. That's exactly the same thing that happened with us in Latin America. That's why we are so strong there," he points out. "Even though we don't have the fairy touch that the English clubs have, we think that the way Barca plays now, and has the best stars is an advantage to enter into the market, and we'll definitely want to tap that potential," he said.

Crucially, the Barcelona official admitted that the top clubs in Spain. Felt that advancing kick-off timings would help attracting fans in Asia.

"I agree that if the Spanish league wants to become more global in Asia - in India and China, Japan and Indonesia -- they will need to start playing some games at an earlier time in the day. I agree. But that's not for FC Barcelona to decide unilaterally. That has to be decided by the whole Spanish league. Both Real Madrid and Barcelona, which are the strongest teams in the league, we do have the proposal on the table of the league," said Faus.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/football/top-stories/Barcelona-have-big-academy-plans-for-India/articleshow/8754206.cms
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Blwe_torch

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Re: Barcelona have big academy plans for India
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2011, 10:18:07 AM »

Messi to play in Kolkata in September
Nilesh Bhattacharya, TNN | Jun 7, 2011, 02.25am IST


FC Barcelona Lionel Messi of Argentina looks on after winning the Champions League soccer title at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. (AP Photo)
KOLKATA: Want to scream "Messi, Messi!" like the rest of the world when his magic unfolds before your eyes? This September, you can do it in Kolkata -- and all for just Rs 1,000.

Lionel Messi and mates in the colours of Argentina will clash with fellow South Americans Venezuela at the Salt Lake Stadium on September 2 in a FIFA-sanctioned friendly, and the Rs 1000 is the lowest denomination ticket for an event that is sure to cause a stampede in the football-mad city.

That Messi and Argentina - and yes, Venezuela too -- will indeed be playing in the city was confirmed here on Monday by Celebrity Management Group (CMG), the exclusive licensee of the match. Ending doubts over Messi's Kolkata trip, CMG insisted that according to their contract with the Argentina Football Association, Manchester City star Carlos Tevez will also be accompanying the side, which is likely to be led by Messi's Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano.

Following the Kolkata match, the Argentine contingent will fly over to Dhaka to play a friendly against Nigeria on Sept 6. Incidentally, the Nigeria-Argentina game played on June 1 in Abuja has come under FIFA's scanner for alleged fixing. Nigeria won 4-1.

The ticket prices which range from Rs 1,000 to around Rs 5,000, could come as a culture shock for Kolkata's football fans who have, for years paid not more than Rs 40 to 50 for games between the top clubs Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. Ironically, just across the city at the Eden Gardens, the sports fan has not been averse to paying anything between Rs 400 to Rs 9,000 to watch Kolkata Knight Riders in the T20 IPL.

Outlining their programme, CMG revealed that they were also planning to sell tickets for Argentina's practice session.

"We plan to do this at a much cheaper price so that those who can't afford tickets for the match get another chance for a dream date with the Argentina footballers," Bhaswar Goswami of CMG said.

As things stand now, the Argentina squad is scheduled to arrive in the city on August 30. The match apart, the squad members will be involved in a number of other events, including a clinic with kids and a charity programme, during their four-day sojourn.

A group of CMG officials will be in Argentina from June 26 to July 7 to chalk out with the AFA the logistics and itinerary for the squad.

The hurdles over bringing Messi and the rest having been cleared, the organizers are bracing up for another challenge: Doing up the venue worthy of an international match. State sports minister Madan Mitra stressed that work is being done on war footing to make the Salt Lake Stadium worthy of the world's best footballer.

"Our cause for concern is: Who is coming and where is he coming? It's regrettable to say that Messi will be playing in a stadium which is in a mess. That's how the Salt Lake Stadium is now. Hopefully we will be able to set the house in order, provide basic amenities to the spectators as well as clean up toilets, dressing rooms and other essential areas of the stadium. It's after all a matter of prestige for all of us," Mitra maintained.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/football/top-stories/Messi-to-play-in-Kolkata-in-September/articleshow/8750218.cms
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