FC Barcelona: Champions of Europe, Champions of Humanitarianism

Barcelona's UNICEF Strip

I love European football; but I’m the first to admit that the venality of the clubs — and the footballers — is every bit as repulsive as the game is beautiful. How amazing, then, to read about the new kit deal struck by European Champions FC Barcelona!

For those of you who do not have your fingers on the pulse of the economics of football, there are two principal ways that clubs profit from their team uniforms. The most obvious source of revenue is from the sales of replica shirts to fans. These are not made directly, for the most part, but come through exclusive licensing deals with major manufacturers, such as Nike, Adidas, Umbro, Kappa, Puma, and others. Manchester United, for example, is a few years into its 13 year, $570 million (£303 million) deal with Nike.

The second method is to plaster the name of a commercial sponsor across the front of the shirts. Vodafone pays Manchester United around $56 million (£30 million) per year to have its logo on the kit, to give one example; Juventus bags roughly $29 million (E24 million) per year from the Lybian oil company Tamoil, to cite another.

Barcelona his been unique among major clubs in refusing to turn their kits into billboards for others. Since its founding more than a century ago, the Barça strip has never borne the name or logo of any third-party — until now. The new strip was unveiled yesterday, during their Champions League tie against the Bulgarian side Levski Sophia at the Nou Camp.

What name now appears accross the chests of the Ronaldinho and his teammates? UNICEF.

Rather than take money from an advertiser, Barça is giving the rights to UNICEF for the next five years, along with a commitment to contribute not less than $1.9 million (E1.5 million) to its humanitarian projects.

Last week, in announcing the deal, club president Joan Laporta gave a beautiful address before the UNICEF executive committee:

Next Tuesday, for the first time in our more than 107 years of history, our main soccer team will wear an emblem on the front of its shirt. It will not be the brand name of a corporation. It will not be a commercial to promote some kind of business. It will be the logo of “UNICEF”. Through UNICEF, we, the people of FC Barcelona, the people of “Barça”, are very proud to donate our shirt to the children of the world who are our present, but especially they are our future.

We believe we have a very powerful tool: soccer. We know that if this tool is put to a good use, we can really make a difference. And this is why we have decided to work with UNICEF, an institution that shares our values and our vision. We want Barça to contribute to global UNICEF programs for the benefit of children in suffering.

The FC Barcelona website also contains something certainly not found on the sites of any other football club: a statement of the Millennium Development Goals and a pledge of commitment to global philanthropy.

I, for one, hope Barça sells more replica strips that any team in the history of football.

5 Responses to “FC Barcelona: Champions of Europe, Champions of Humanitarianism”

  1. 1 Colin 19 December 2006 at 6:46 am

    European Champions FC Barcelona!

    Seville won UEFA cup and then went on to beat Barcelona (Champions league winners)in the European super cup, and then Seville became Champions of Europe!

  2. 2 Parmdan 15 November 2007 at 1:34 am


    I thought I might fill in some history about Barca. If there is one club in Europe that can still be considered a club of the people it is the Catalan institute. Their motto is “Mes que un club” (more than a club). They stood as a symbol against the fascist dictatorship of Franco. The fact that Franco’s regime was based in Madrid only heightened the rivalry. On the other hand Barca are owned by a large bank, so they’ve never had the need to advertise. Still, good on ’em for wearing the UNICEF symbol.

  3. 3 mbjesq 15 November 2007 at 10:23 am

    Thanks for the supplement, Parmdan.

  4. 4 Parmdan 13 May 2008 at 5:46 pm

    hi mbjesq,
    I was completely wrong about Barca being owned by a bank. They are not. Rather, over 150,000 individuals own shares of the club. A true team of the people. I believe a few other clubs in Europe are run in the same fashion; FC Bayern Munich and Benfica being the most famous examples

  5. 5 freekicker 3 June 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Ya admire Barca for this gesture and Messi :)

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