Barcelona president confirms club will play a friendly in India
Barcelona’s trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez will be in India very soon, as Barcelona’s president Josep Bartomeu confirmed that the club are planning a visit to the country in the next two or three years.
Several other clubs have previously come to India, but this would create massive tremors in the Indian football community. Barcelona are easily one of the best clubs in the world, and a visit by them would be a truly momentous occasion for the country's football fans.
The number of fans of Barcelona have doubled in the last few years thanks to the genius of Lionel Messi and the beautiful football they play. They have become a hugely successful dynasty, and that has a lot to do with the brilliance of the Argentine.
In an interview with The Hindu, the president Bartomeu said, “One of our objectives is to come to India with our first team. Now the dates are very tight. The season ends late and starts early. I am sure we will come to India in the next two to three years. Our board is seriously thinking about it.”
Bartomeu also spoke about the El Clasico and the emotional rollercoaster that the rivalry brings. “It is tough. We respect our rival and try to keep our emotions in check. We don’t celebrate when we score goals. Barcelona has been signing a lot of young players from outside in the last two years.”
There are also reports that Cristiano Ronaldo will visit India next year with the Portuguese national team.
Messi has visited India already, so it will not be anything new for the Argentine. He came in 2011 with the Argentine national team and played a friendly against Venezuela in Kolkata.
Barcelona have soccer schools in India as well, and Bartomeu elaborated further on his plans for the future in India.
“We have 24-26 schools all over the world and it is growing. We go to cities that have huge demand. We would like to teach the kids the way we play. Once they finish, they can play in local leagues,” he said.
“The object is to make them capable of playing in the local leagues. Not only that, we would like to teach young coaches also. We are also in the process of opening more Barcelona Schools in India,” he added.
Cricket is currently the dominant sport in the country, and it would be a huge task for football to come anywhere close to the fandom that the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli enjoy. But in the last few years, there has been an upturn in the number of football fans thanks to the ISL.
Bartomeu also spoke about the club’s plans to expand their operations in India. “There is a lot to promote in other countries. We want to get closer to our fans in India. I know cricket is the popular sport, but I also know many people follow Barcelona. We want to come to India to teach young people the concept of FC Barcelona,” he said.
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