More Than A Club

The sponsorship agreement signed between Turkish Airlines and FC Barcelona is a significant milestone in the airline’s global positioning strategy.

Valdez, Pique, Puyol, Xavi, Messi, Henry... our pride grew steadily as the names resounded through the 98,000-capacity ‘temple to football’ at Camp Nou. For the symbolic gate at the point where the FC Barcelona team emerged onto the pitch bore the Turkish Airlines logo. Every goal shot at the match was a new source of pleasure for us, because the name Turkish Airlines appeared on the scoreboard for the full 90 minutes, even as Turkish Airlines ads were constantly rolling up on the advertising panels. In short, along with FC Barcelona’s sublime playing, Turkish Airlines also put its stamp on Camp Nou the evening of Monday, January 18.

FC Barcelona is one of the most successful soccer clubs in the world. For the moment, Barca has left Chelsea and Manchester behind to preserve its top place in the UEFA team rankings. But its most talked about success these days is the six cups it captured last season. The cups of the Champions League Championship, the Super Cup Championship, the Spanish League Championship, the Spanish Super Cup Championship, the Spain Copa Del Rey Championship and the Clubs Cup Championship -- all six are on prominently, display in the magnificent museum below the Catalan club’s stadium.

A number of different factors underlie FC Barcelona’s unparalleled success, foremost among them the Catalan spirit. The players, each one a star in his own right, are well aware that they play at the service of the team and with team spirit. FC Barcelona, which has not accepted any ads on its uniforms since 1982, in recent years has sported the UNICEF emblem as an indication of its sensitivity to social issues. All these things make FC Barcelona a different kind of soccer club, and that is why the team’s motto is ‘More than a club...’

Another important feature of the Catalan club is that it is a football factory in the true sense of the word. Known as ‘Cantera’, FC Barcelona’s youth academy has supplied the club with valuable players in every period. Among them Victor Valdés, Carles Puyol, Xavier Hernandez, Andreas Iniesta, Bojan Krkic, and Lionel Messi immediately spring to mind. It’s a strategy that ensures that the club discovers fresh young talent on the one hand while enabling it to balance its budget on the other. . At Cantera all the talented, young players train under almost the same conditions as the first-team and work with the best technical directors. And this in the end is what gets results. As FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta put it: “Close to half the players on our team have come up through the youth academy.”

Moving forward with a vision of becoming one of the world’s leading airlines on a global scale as part of its 2023 strategy, Turkish Airlines is enjoying the advantages of hooking up with a global brand like FC Barcelona. Turkish Airlines’ CEO and Executive Board member Temel Kotil emphasized the importance of the agreement at the signing ceremony in Barcelona on January 20 when he said, “We are pleased to be the wings for the greatest team in the world!”   

Under the sponsorship agreement, Turkish Airlines will appear as FC Barcelona’s ‘official sponsor’ in all the team’s advertising and logos, most notably on the big advertising panels at its Camp Nou stadium. The airline will also be able to shoot advertising films with FC Barcelona players as well as publicizing and advertising its sponsorship all over the world. Turkish Airlines is going to transport FC Barcelona to camps and tournaments outside Spain.

Turkish Airlines Brought Us Luck!
This month we interviewed FC Barcelona’s midfield maestro, Xavi, for SKYLIFE readers.

Xavier Hernandez Creus, aka Xavi (pronounced Khavi), is, together with Iniesta, the brain in the midfield of the legendary FC Barcelona soccer team. Thanks to his strategic play and quick reactions, Manchester United’s technical director Sir Alex Ferguson has said of him, “I don’t think he’s ever in his life given away a ball that’s come to him.” That’s how good his technique is.

Xavi is an FC Barcelona product through and through. Born in Catalan, he started out with the team, coming up through the ranks and working with some of the best trainers. The team’s then midfielder, the legendary Josep Guardiola, currently technical director, was his model right from the start. Indeed, Guardiola took Xavi under his wing, saying of him: “This kid is going to retire me; he’s going to retire us all!”  Already as a player for FC Barcelona’s youth team, Xavi chalked up several successes. He held his own after moving up to the first-team too. Rejecting transfer offers, Xavi has signed a contract with the team through 2014. “FC Barcelona is my home,” says Xavi. “I don’t want to leave.”

FC Barcelona’s motto is “More than a club...” What does that mean?
We Catalans are very closely attached to our land, to the region where we live. This feeling is no longer unique to us but is starting to become a global phenomenon. FC Barcelona is a club that engages in social initiatives which it transforms into reality. We have only one ad on the front of our uniforms, for example, and that’s the UNICEF ad. We regard this as our social responsibility. All these things make us more than a club.

You captured six cups this year. What is the secret behind this success?
Our success is actually a combination of many factors. We have very good and very talented players. We work together very well. Our center is very good, everything is perfect in the locker room, everybody gets along really well. Most importantly of all, our players are all quality players, and that quality is what makes us successful.

How do you motivate yourself for the next season after such a record success? Doesn’t this create a sense of having done it all?
We know very well that in football you can’t ever stop. So we don’t. The matches and tournaments go on and we have to be part of them, we have to keep moving forward. The leagues, Champions League, the cups, they all begin all over again every year. We know very well that if we don’t keep it up, if we get bored with winning, we will never win again. We want to write history at FC Barcelona! I hope that we will chalk up even more successes. That is our sole aim.

FC Barcelona has an excellent youth academy and you came out of it. What role does academy play in FC Barcelona’s success and how did it evolve?
Youth development and academy really are very important at FC Barcelona. Talented young players join up starting from the age of eight, and they work with very good trainers. The players that got quality training in that youth academy are the biggest factor in FC Barcelona’s success today.

Recently FC Barcelona has been playing extremely confident and dynamic football. How do you find technical director Guardiola’s system?
The tactics and playing system of FC Barcelona have changed significantly under Guardiola. It’s a different system, both technically and tactically. He really knows how to motivate us, so we work very well as a team. He made us feel that we are important and instilled that spirit in us. And this has made FC Barcelona a stronger team.

There’s usually a problem with teamwork on teams that have a lot of star players. How does FC Barcelona capture that team harmony when everybody is a star?
Star players have to understand that their real job is to work for the team. We are all at the service of the team. If a star player realizes this, then he will become an even more brilliant player. If not, his star will gradually wane. If a player wants to be an individual star, it’s better for him to go play tennis or golf.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the industrialization of football. How do you view that development?
There is no doubt that soccer has become a big business. I’m talking here about a very global business. In the end, football is a is a commercial enterprise commercial enterprise involving big budgets and big money. The spectators pay money to get into the stadiums to watch the games, and the television channels incur serious costs to broadcast them. The man on the street is forced to buy the services of the broadcaster in order to watch the games. All of which goes to show that football is a big industry.

What kind of qualities would a player in your position need to have in modern soccer?
First of all, a modern midfielder has to be able to read the game very well. Physically he needs to be in very good condition and to think always about teamwork, to get the team to play well. 

What do you think about Turkish Airlines becoming a sponsor of FC Barcelona?
This is great news for us. I also watched the press conference that was held. Our President Joan Laporta said that Turkish Airlines was the Europe’s fourth biggest airline. A cooperation of this kind is a privilege for us. You know that we also flew to Abu Dhabi on Turkish Airlines.

How was the trip?
It was a very comfortable flight. Everybody treated us really well. The plane was really nice. Most importantly of all, Turkish Airlines brought us luck! We hope that this sponsorship will continue for many years to come.

Do you have any final message for Turkish readers?
I thank you very much for the support you have given to FC Barcelona. I hope you will continue to derive pleasure from football and from FC Barcelona. We will do everything in our power to make that possible. I would ask that you continue the support you have shown us up to now, because this support coming from Turkey makes us very happy.