"More than a Club in the World" has long been the slogan of the largest and perhaps greatest soccer club in the world. FC Barcelona was one of the first soccer clubs to be founded in Spain. It became a haven for Catalan sentiment when Catalan self-government and Catalan culture were proscribed during the dictatorship. It has since become a global enterprise with global commitments, while continuing to identify Europe's largest and most developed non-state culture.
About the Speaker
Joan Laporta is the president of Football Club Barcelona. He has a law degree from the University of Barcelona. He specializes in civil and trading law, and has his own firm, Laporta & Arbós Advocats Associats.
Mr. Laporta became president of FC Barcelona on June 15, 2003 and won a second presidential term in summer 2006. Under his leadership, the club has striven to promote the values that have traditionally been associated with Barça: Catalan nationalism, civilian duty, and universality. FC Barcelona has since become a club with an enormous public resonance. Their recent partnership with UNICEF is a statement of the club's continuing efforts to be at the forefront of solidarity projects with a global reach.
Sponsored by the Iberian Studies Program, Forum on Contemporary Europe, the Office of the Provost, Department of Athletics, and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Mr. Laporta details the early leadership of the club and the political challenges the club has faced, including the shooting of the club's president by Franco's troops during the Spanish Civil War, the opening of police files on the club when it did not support the regime, and attempts to change the club's name to "Espana." He emphasizes the club's strong history of integration, international spirit, and defense of rights and liberties. He explains that FC Barcelona survived the many obstacles of the 20th century because it is "more than a club" - it defends Catalan rights in Catalonia, democratic rights in Spain, and human rights worldwide. The club's social commitments include donating 7% of revenue to a foundation aimed at furthering the Millennium Development Goals, and partnering with UNICEF on development initiatives.
With more than 4% of the population (247 million people) involved in soccer around the world, and more countries affiliated with FIFA than with the United Nations, FC Barcelona aims to adapt to a global environment while preserving its Catalan identity. Its players recognize that they are role models to fans across the world, and the club recognizes that its sporting, economic, and social facets work together to make the club successful. Mr. Laporta concludes by asserting that FC Barcelona today is in one of the best positions of the club's history.