Officials put pen to paper on an exclusive three-year contract at the iconic Camp Nou on Friday morning, hours before new coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino was presented to the world’s media. Announcing the deal that will also see coaches from the famous La Masia academy travel to African countries to pass on their knowledge to local coaches, financial vice-president Javier Faus admitted he is hopeful that Barca will follow up their 2007 tour to South Africa in the coming years.
“Eight of our players won the World Cup in Johannesburg in 2010 so the country is deep in their hearts. We don’t rule out the possibility of coming to play in South Africa again – we have a lot of possibilities every year and hopefully this partnership can help that happen in the future,” he said.
“We have a lot of fans across the world but Africa is the final frontier. We want to spend time and effort to introduce ourselves to the continent. Our willingness is to tap into that market over the next decade because we know that is something that doesn’t happen overnight.”
Faus added: “But this partnership goes beyond just signing the contract. If they require some help from us to have our coaches going to southern Africa then we will provide it. We are doing the same thing in Israel and Palestine and are also planning to bring coaches over to La Masia to see how things are done here. In the last 20 years most of the talent has come from west Africa but I think in the next two decades the continent will become even more important in producing players. I’m sure that in that time we will see an African team winning the World Cup.”
Barcelona’s visit in 2007 was organised by Unicef and saw them play Mamelodi Sundowns.
Having traditionally resisted having an official shirt sponsor until last year, they signed a 35m euro deal with Qatar Airways and are now attempting to compete with the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid for a share of the global marketplace.
And marketing director of SAB Miller Africa Dave Carruthers admitted he is delighted to have sealed their first exclusive link-up in Africa.
He said: “If you are going to choose a football club to become associated with then I think there’s only one club and that’s Barcelona. They are the favourite or second favourite club of most football supporters across the world because in the last five years they have taken football to a new level.”