Podcast: Barcelona president Bartomeu on club's New York office, USA ambitions
FC Barcelona has opened a new office in New York City, the latest in its plans for global expansion of its brand while the club continues to thrive on the field. Among the favorites to win the UEFA Champions League again and a perennial top-two contender in La Liga, Barcelona has no shortage of high expectations on an annual basis.
The club is hoping to extend that success off the field worldwide, with the opening of the midtown Manhattan office the latest step. It just opened its second soccer school (FCB Escola) in the United States in Charlotte, North Carolina, following the 2-year-old school that resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
And with the ever-evolving globalization in the game, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu sees Barcelona's new base abroad as a natural progression, and he discussed the club and its latest developments with SI's Grant Wahl in a special Planet Futbol Podcast interview.
"Of course we were already working with companies in the U.S. we were already opening soccer schools in the U.S., and it was time to be here permanently," Bartomeu said. "We have a lot of fans a lot of people who love football in the U.S. and they love Barça, and opening this office means we want to be with them, we want to be closer to them and we want to extend our relationship with them."
Bartomeu elaborated on the club's plans to operate a women's team, one that could potentially even participate in NWSL.
"We are thinking, it's not yet decided, but it's one of the ideas that we have more strongly now ahead," Bartomeu said. "Women's soccer is very important in the U.S., and we have a professional team in Barcelona. We find a lot of common points that we could organize a team in the U.S. and of course try to help to improve better even more, if it's possible, the women's soccer league, which is really incredible because the level of soccer of women's football in the U.S. is enormous."
Listen to the full interview, which includes conversation on Lionel Messi and Neymar's futures and growing both La Liga's presence on U.S. television and futsal's place in the country, in the podcast above.