Credit: FC Barcelona

Bartomeu: When we are together we are invincible and win everything, as we saw with the treble

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Bartomeu: When we are together we are invincible and win everything, as we saw with the treble

FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu addressed the 36th World Congress of Penyes (supporters clubs) on Wednesday morning. The newly elected president touched on various aspects of the club, especially the challenges ahead. “We need to be even more global,” said Bartomeu to a packed assembly hall. “We want Barça to be even bigger leaders but for there to be room for us all … I promise you that we will work a lot to build bridges that will help us be a club that fosters dialogue.”

He mentioned the new plans: “We want to maintain the sporting excellence, consolidate the economic leadership, reinforce the union of the barcelonismo, to accompany the penya movement, consolidate the amateur sections (that depend on the social area). We also want to reinforce the Foundation, our charity part. Besides, in this six years we have to see the Espai Barça become a reality and we are accepting new challenges: we will create the Barça Observatory and University, we will be the only club in the world that has those, we will create the Masia 360, so that the players stay at the club after they retire and we will make a more solid effort for women’s sport.”

Bartomeu put a big emphasis on unity. “It’s very exciting for us that the first public appearance after the elections is here, with the penya members. In the elections we gave a lesson of democracy to the entire world. I want to thank you for your majority support. We didn’t make promises in vain during the campaign, we made them thinking of the growth of Barça. No one will make things easy for us and our first pledge is that we will put in the effort. When we are together we are invincible -- players, coaches, socís, penya members, we win everything, as we saw with the treble.”

He spoke about the sporting side, saying that “We are the best club in the world, we’ve been the leaders in football for many years and we have opened a new winning cycle that led us to the treble last season.” Bartomeu expressed his hopes for this season, “We are hopeful about the new season and want to win all six trophies and then become the first team to win the Champions League twice in a row. It will be very difficult because we’re competing against great teams, but I think that this team can do it. We have the best attacking trio in the world to help us do that. Messi, Neymar Jr and Luis Suárez deserve to be the three finalists for the FIFA Ballon d’Or. And Messi is of course still the best in the world and he will remain that way.”

“We get the season underway with the treble fresh in our memories. It took a huge effort, we had to overcome many problems, but we did it. Last year we ushered in a new era under Luis Enrique and it worked. We’ve got back to winning ways and that will continue in the next few years. Xavi left this summer; he deserved the send-off he got, but he’ll come home in the future. His story at Barça isn’t over: he has a lot to contribute,” he added.

He recalled that two players from Barça B have been promoted to the first team and welcomed Robert, Pep Segura and Gerard López, stating that: “Gerard Lopez’s target is not to return the team to the Segunda A, but rather to form footballers.” He also mentioned the appointment of Gabri as the coach for Juvenil A.

About the women’s football team, he said: “We have to give it more resources, we want it to be a professional team who can compete in Europe.”

Bartomeu also talked about the club’s finances, proudly stating that “we are the first club in the world, of any sport, to break the barrier of €600 million in income. We want to keep consolidating the Barça brand in the world. If we maintain ourselves independent we will keep on being strong and sustainable.”

Although he admitted that “the Espai Barça is a challenge,” Bartomeu insisted that “having the best Palau, the best Mini and the best Camp Nou” will be achievable in six years.

He discussed the club’s social weight, saying that “counting members and supporters clubs there are 300,000 Barça fans and no club in the world can compare with those figures.”

The supporters’ club movement is one that Bartomeu is especially impressed by, and he thanked them for all of their “good work and support” and wished them all the best with their long-term plans for the period between now and 2021.

Bartomeu also commented on UEFA’s sanction after flags supporting Catalan independence were seen at the final in Berlin. “Nobody should think that we did not appeal out of weakness,” he said. “I said we’d take this matter to the end, and we will. We are responding in the way that best characterizes us; thinking about the club’s interests and those of Catalonia. We will be firm but cool-headed. We will use all the legal and diplomatic options we have. That’s because we think that the best for us and for everyone's respect for freedom of expression in keeping with our club’s values and identity.”

The first team’s new players were also presented to the Congress. Arda Turan, Aleix Vidal, Sandro Ramírez and Munir El Haddadi became the protagonists of the meeting after they came on stage accompanied by the new technical secretary, Robert Fernández.

The first one to speak was the technical secretary. “I know the great responsibility before me. We have a great team, with the best players in the world and a coach with a lot of strength and desire. I only ask for unity because that is the most important thing,” he said.

The players also said a few words. The Catalan Aleix Vidal assured that he returns to Barça with the dream of “staying here until the end of my career,” Sandro wished that “we can all enjoy the team together,” while Munir assured that “we want to win everything.”

Arda Turan left a good impression on the attendees, starting his short speech with a spontaneous “Visca el Barça.”

“I’m happy to be in the best team in the world,” Turan added.


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