What did Barça do?
FC Barcelona and Barça Foundation first vice president Jordi Cardoner has a message for Barça fans and members about what the club is doing regarding the coronavirus crisis
What did Barça do?
How many Catalans end the weekend asking, among others things ‘What did Barça do?’ Clearly, when we ask that question we are asking about the football score, and whether we have won or not.
There is no football these days. There is, however, a big final, possibly the one we never wanted to play. A life or death game against the cruellest of opponents, a hitherto unknown rival: the coronavirus.
To win this game we have to follow, point by point, the instructions and requirements coming to us from the health authorities: we have to stay at home, protect ourselves, and protect the most vulnerable people around us from the indiscriminate attack of this damned virus. But also, at home, we can get stronger and join the fight against this enemy.
But going back to the original question. These days our members, supporters clubs and fans are asking: so, what did Barça do? Apart from looking for ways to reduce the financial impact that the club will suffer as a result of this crisis, what else has Barça done?
These days, for example, we are not only helping to raise awareness of the importance of staying at home to halt the spread of the disease. At the Barcelona Supporter Services Office (OAB) we are attending to thousands of calls about the coronavirus. In fact, since the crisis began, we have been getting twice as many phone calls, and 67% of them are related to the pandemic. Let’s stop and think about that.
Why? Because I dare say, without knowing, that there is no other club in the world where this is happening. The Barça DNA that we all share means that in moments of vulnerability, anguish and even fear, we turn to our club for answers, or simply in search of the warmth that so many of us need in the times we are enduring. It’s extraordinary!
But it is not just that. As part of the current situation, and as part of the responsibility that our members entrust in us, we have worked hard to add to the administration’s actions the duty to serve our members and, by extension, the most at-risk groups, children and the elderly.
Through the Social Area and the foundation, we want to keep accompanying our people. Being close to the members means, among many other things, being there for them in difficult times. Therefore the OAB has stayed open since the very first day, and has phoned every member aged over 80, more than 8,000 of them, to ask them how they feel and whether they need anything. The idea is to contact them every fortnight and monitor their requirements. Many of these calls are simply informative, and to help tell them about the appropriate services.
Meanwhile, our foundation, which is present in 85 towns and cities in Catalonia and 59 countries around the world, with 1,630,000 beneficiaries, is the branch through which the club’s solidarity and social responsibility is channelled, and it is therefore running a series of actions that are in keeping with its social goals.
These are some of these actions:
- Contacting the club’s global and regional partners to donate material and health equipment. The first despatch of 30,000 face masks from Taiping, one of our sponsors in China, has already arrived in Catalonia and is being distributed to old people’s homes.
- Launch of an awareness campaign, pushing the message to #StayAtHome, in collaboration with Hospital de Sant Joan de Déu and being shown on Barça TV and posted on our social media and other communication channels, and featuring children who have been at the centre for some time due to their illnesses. Via doctors in different fields, they are describing their experiences and encouraging people to stay at home.
- Maintenance of programmes and search for new support for the most vulnerable groups with which we work at the Barça Foundation.
But that’s not all. Barça is also working with the Government of Catalonia’s Ministry of Health and has provided the authorities with the services of the World Penyes Confederation, the supporters clubs, to make good of their presence in different regions to help local organisations both personally and also by supplying resources and facilities. The Confederation has also set up a joint venture with the Food Bank, and via the Barça Innovation Hub, the club is working with research centres like Hospital Clínico, Hospital Trias i Pujol and Barcelona Supercomputing Center to offer our collaboration and coordination with research activity related with the impact of the coronavirus on sport.
Barça is doing all this. Because that is how we stay faithful to our very essence – being with the people at the most intimate and delicate of times; being there for them every day, whether we are playing competitive games or not, and supporting the most needy. And once again making it clear, without getting into the debate as to whether we are the greatest club in the world or not, that we are certainly different. And, in short, that is the best way to show, based on real facts, that we are indeed, more than a club.