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《财富》杂志探秘巴塞罗那足球俱乐部

Vivienne Walt 2018年04月08日

这支全球最成功也最富有的足球俱乐部正准备大举向海外发展,但在国内,它仍旧保持着地方特色。

在最近的一个傍晚,巴塞罗那西面的郊区一片昏暗,异常宁静。然而,在一座山峰光线明亮的半山腰上,探照灯照亮了修剪整齐的操场,折射出模糊的色彩和运动身影。约有125个男孩,最小的只有11岁,在草坪上来回奔跑,用精心编排的进攻和防御动作控制着脚下的足球。

如果放在其他郊区,上面这一幕可能就是一般的校后体育活动。然而,这里的孩子个个都天赋异禀。这些身着运动裤和球衣的孩子们来这里的目的只有一个:闯入优中选优的国际顶级足球产业(在美国英语中称之为soccer)。这些孩子都是由专业球探亲自从西班牙的小俱乐部或国外挑选而来。然后,就像对待珍贵的兰花一样,这些孩子们将被安置在巴塞罗那足球俱乐部的拉玛西亚训练学校。巴萨是全球最富有、最受欢迎的专业体育特许权经营商之一。当我问哪一个男孩能够成为第二个莱昂内尔·梅西(巴萨的超级明星,有人认为是足球史上最好的球员)时,一位工作人员指向了一个穿着霓虹橘色球鞋、在球场上狂奔的11岁瘦高男孩。他对我说,这个男孩来自于巴塞罗那一个普通的北非移民家庭,注定将成为明星。“他是西班牙最好的球苗之一”,他说道。

成为最优秀的足球运动员是全球无数人的梦想,彰显了地球上受众最广泛的体育运动的强大诱惑力。从美国到乌干达,老老少少都会观看其最喜爱的球队在数千英里之外人满为患的球场上进行角逐。

The suburbs stretching west of Barcelona are dark and quiet on a recent evening. But on one brightly lit hillside, floodlights illuminate perfectly manicured fields, showing a blur of color and action. About 125 boys, some as young as 11, race back and forth across the grass, kicking footballs in a complex choreography of attack and defense.

If this were any other suburb, it might be a regular after-school sports activity. But these are no ordinary kids. In their sweatpants and jerseys, they are here for one purpose: to break into the exceedingly rarefied global industry of top-flight football (or soccer, to use the American word). The boys have been handpicked by professional scouts and plucked from their small clubs across Spain and sometimes abroad. Then, like valuable orchids, they’ve been planted in La Masia, the training academy of Football Club Barcelona—one of the richest and most beloved professional sports franchises anywhere in the world. When I ask which boy could be the next Lionel Messi—Barcelona’s superstar, and some would argue the best footballer in history—a staff member points to a lanky 11-year-old in neon-orange cleats, darting across the field. He tells me the boy is from a modest North African immigrant family in Barcelona and destined for stardom. “He is one of the best in Spain,” he crows.

To be the best in football is the dream of countless millions around the world—a measure of the powerful allure of the most global sport on the planet, with children and adults from the U.S. to Uganda watching their favorite teams playing in packed stadiums hundreds or thousands of miles away.

雄心壮志的足球明星现身巴塞罗那足球俱乐部知名的拉玛西亚培训学校。Photograph by Javier Luengo for Fortune

在顶级俱乐部中,能够与巴塞罗那足球俱乐部(又称巴萨)齐名的少之又少。该俱乐部在Facebook上有1亿多名追随者,在Twitter上的粉丝更多。巴萨之所以能斩获如此多的追随者,部分原因在于其丰富多彩的历史。俱乐部的口号是“不仅仅是一家俱乐部”。巴萨不仅多次夺得联赛桂冠,包括24次西班牙甲级联赛和众多欧洲冠军杯赛事的冠军,同时还保持了西班牙加泰罗尼亚半自治地区(一个多世纪以来一直在与西班牙政府作斗争,争取自己的独立权利)独有的文化。正因为如此,巴萨的电视赛事才能牢牢地吸引数亿忠实观众,其中也有tiki-taka的功劳。它是巴萨在上个世纪80年代发明的一种快节奏战术。在这一战术中,球员会在频繁切换位置的过程中快速传球。然而,如今的问题在于,巴萨是否能够在这个唯利是图的行业中保持其独特性。

全球足球产业是一个巨大的市场,而且仍在快速增长。30多亿人观看了2014年世界杯(主办方是国际足球机构国际足球联盟)德国对战阿根廷的决赛,是2月份超级碗决赛观看人数的30倍还多。几乎可以肯定的是,今夏为期一个月的俄罗斯世界杯赛事将再创收视率高潮。世界杯将于6月14日在莫斯科拉开帷幕,将有来自于全球的32个国家队参赛。然而不幸的是,美国作为体育产业增速最快的市场,并没有拿到参赛资格。无所谓,像巴萨的梅西(来自于阿根廷)这样的明星是世界级的品牌。事实上,每一年(贯穿全年),只有像巴萨这样的专业球队才能吸引大量的资金和观众,而且这两个数字正在飙升。

如今,在经历了一个世纪的地方优越感之后,巴萨正努力成为地球上各大体育俱乐部中首个年营收达到10亿欧元(约合12.3亿美元)的俱乐部,可能最快在2020年就能实现这个目标。德勤1月发布的年度“足球金钱联盟”报道称,去年,得益于的欧洲足球联赛直播权交易以及单个俱乐部所签署的赞助交易数量的上涨,全球最顶级三支足球队——曼联、皇家马德里和巴萨,共计斩获了约25亿美元的收入。这三支球队的收入均排在美国橄榄球联盟最大的摇钱树Dallas Cowboys之前,后者去年拿到了7亿美元的销售收入。英格兰曼彻斯特德勤体育业务部门总监奥斯丁·霍利亨指出,像巴萨这样的精英俱乐部 “是全球顶级的创收体育项目。”

Among the elite clubs, few rank with Barça, as FC Barcelona is commonly known. More than 100 million people follow Barça on Facebook and tens of millions more on Twitter. Barça has cultivated that mammoth following in part through its intensely colorful history. Its slogan is Més que un club, “More than a club.” And FC Barcelona fights not only to win league titles—it has won Spain’s La Liga two dozen times and many European championships—but also to maintain its unique culture within Spain’s semiautonomous region of Catalonia, which has battled for its separate rights from Madrid for more than a century. Through all that, Barça has kept millions glued to its televised matches, thanks to the fast-paced style it developed in the 1980s, dubbed tiki-taka, in which players rapidly pass the ball as they swap positions. The question now is, Can Barça retain its uniqueness, in an industry that is ever more focused on big money?

The business of global football is humongous and still growing fast. More than 3 billion people watched Germany beat Argentina in the final of the 2014 World Cup, run by FIFA, the international football body. That’s more than 30 times greater than the number that watched the Super Bowl in February. The viewership will almost certainly be gargantuan again for this summer’s monthlong World Cup in Russia, which opens in Moscow on June 14 and includes 32 national teams from around the globe. And that’s despite the fact that the U.S., one of the sport’s fastest-growing markets, failed to qualify. No matter: Stars like Barça’s Messi, who is from Argentina, are global brands. In fact, throughout the year, every year, it is professional teams like Barça that command the giant money and audiences—and both are soaring.

Now, after a century of fervent local pride, Barcelona is aiming to become the first club of any sport on the planet to earn 1 billion euros ($1.23 billion) in revenue a year, perhaps as soon as 2020. Last year, the world’s top three football teams—Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Barcelona—brought in combined revenues of around $2.5 billion, thanks to rising TV-rights deals with Europe’s football leagues and sponsorship deals signed by the individual clubs, according to the annual Deloitte “Football Money League” report published in January. All three ranked ahead of the NFL’s biggest revenue generator, the Dallas Cowboys, which had $700 million in sales last year. Elite clubs like Barcelona “are the top revenue-generating sports [franchises] in the world,” says Austin Houlihan, a director at Deloitte’s Sports Business Group in Manchester, England.

巴萨的梅西庆祝自己在3月4日对战马德里竞技队的赛事中进球。Alex Caparros—Getty Images 

但上述华丽的数字掩盖了一些正在恶化的问题。电视收视率在全球一些地区正在下降,越来越多的人通过其手机观看直播视频流。与此同时,顶级球员薪资的飙升速度是如此之快,以至于当前的这一数字在不到一年前在人们看来都是不可思议的。

这两个因素都在迫使精英俱乐部不断地去寻找资金来源:各大俱乐部争取顶级排名的竞争越激烈,那么保住这一排名的花费也就越高。只有一小部分球队会争先恐后地去签约全球最好的球员,像巴萨这样的少数精英俱乐部才拥有足够的资金来开展巅峰对决,而且这类俱乐部与排名靠后的俱乐部之间的差距越来越大。德勤称,在2016-2017赛季,巴萨创造了6.48亿欧元(约合7.067亿美元)的收入,较此前5年总和健康地增长了25%。(巴萨自己报出了6.82亿欧元的收入,但德勤的结果已经剔除了外汇收益。)

55岁的巴萨主席何塞普·马里亚·巴托梅乌坐在诺坎普球场行政套间中说:“如果我们希望获得成功,而且我们希望建立一个能够可持续发展的俱乐部,我们在2020年将需要10亿欧元的资金。” 诺坎普球场是巴萨知名的总部,其中涵盖欧洲最大的足球场,设有9.95万个椅子。巴托梅乌指出,俱乐部需要这比巨额收入来“保持其竞争力”。

But the gaudy numbers mask some festering problems. TV viewership is slipping in parts of the world, with more and more people live-streaming matches on their phones. Meanwhile, top players’ salaries are rocketing up so fast that they have reached sums thought unimaginable less than a year ago.

Both factors trap elite clubs in a continual hunt for money: The harder they compete for the very top rankings, the more money they need just to stay on top. With a tiny handful of teams scrambling to sign the world’s best players, there is a growing gap between the few, like Barça, with enough money to compete at the highest level, and the masses below them. For the 2016–17 season, Barça generated 648 million euros ($706.7 million) in revenue, according to Deloitte, a healthy 25% increase over its total from five years earlier. (Barcelona itself reported 682 million euros in revenue, but Deloitte’s estimate strips out factors like foreign-exchange earnings.)

“If we want to be successful and if we want to have a club that is going to be sustainable, we will need that 1 billion euros in 2020,” says FC Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu, 55, sitting in his executive suite in Camp Nou, Barça’s famous headquarters, which includes Europe’s biggest football stadium, with 99,500 seats. Bartomeu says giant revenues are needed simply “to stay competitive.”

俱乐部主席约瑟普·玛利亚·巴托梅乌(戴着眼镜)与首席执行官奥斯卡·格劳(握着手)最近与耐克会面,讨论赞助事宜。Photograph by Javier Luengo for Fortune

这些大型商业动议严重背离了巴萨的传统的价值认同。自1899年成立以来,令俱乐部感到自豪的是,巴萨一直是加泰罗尼亚应对首都劲敌皇家马德里的武器,而这也生动地展示了西班牙紧张激烈的政治局势。球队的明星中锋杰拉德·皮克对我说:“我们都知道,我们不仅代表巴萨,还代表着加泰罗尼亚。”巴塞罗那土生土长的皮克与梅西一样在13岁时就开始在拉玛西亚学校接受培训。31岁的皮克说:“我们必须与所有其他俱乐部竞争,这些俱乐部投入了更多的资金,也提供更高的薪资。”皮克于1月签订了一份新的四年期合同。

为了获取源源不断的巨额资金,巴萨已经在其重视的某些价值方面做出了妥协。2011年,巴萨与卡塔尔基金会签署了一份约4500万美元/年的合同,成为了最后一家出售其球衣贴标权的主流足球俱乐部。目前,日本公司乐天每年向球队支付6800万美元,以购买巴萨队服的贴标权。去年,巴托梅乌与耐克签署了一份收入颇丰的长期协议。巴萨还与多家公司就其即将扩容的体育场和体育设施的冠名权进行了谈判。巴萨预计新体育场将在4年后投入使用,共设10.5万个座位。交易额可能高达约3亿欧元,时限20年。

Those big-business imperatives are a sharp departure from Barça’s traditional identity. The club has prided itself, since its founding in 1899, as Catalonia’s scrappy counterpoint to its bitter rival in the capital, Real Madrid—a living embodiment of Spain’s fierce political tensions. “We know we are not only representing Barcelona, we are representing Catalonia,” Gerard Piqué, the team’s star center-forward, tells me. A Barcelona native, Piqué, like Messi, began playing in the La Masia academy at age 13. “We have to compete with all the other clubs that are investing, that are offering much more money,” says Piqué, 31, who signed a new four-year contract in January.

In order to keep the big money flowing, Barça has already compromised some cherished values. In 2011 it became the last major football club to sell the rights to put logos on its team jerseys, signing an estimated $45-million-a-year deal with the Qatar Foundation. The Japanese company Rakuten now pays around $68 million a year to have its name on Barça’s uniforms and last year Bartomeu worked out a lucrative long-term deal with Nike. Barça is also negotiating with corporations for naming rights on its soon-to-be expanded stadium and sports complex, which it expects to open in about four years, with 105,000 seats—a deal that could be worth about 300 million euros over 20 years.

巴萨的后卫皮克说,俱乐部就是加泰罗尼亚的“一切” 。Photograph by Javier Luengo for Fortune

令一些球迷和行业高管越来越担忧的是,各大俱乐部可能在满足其财务需求方面会愈发感到力不从心。巴塞罗那电视与传播公司MediaPro首席执行官豪梅·杰姆斯说:“这不是真实的价格,是不可持续的。”

说到全球足球行业的引爆点,那就不得不提去年8月巴黎圣日尔曼以2.22亿欧元(超过2.7亿美元)从巴萨手中购买巴西前锋内马尔的事件,它创下了足球史上最高的转会费。这一费用是内马尔的“买断条款”所规定的金额,写入了他在2013年签署的合同,也就是其他俱乐部购买内马尔时需向巴萨支付的费用。在签署合同时,有鉴于这个天文数字,巴萨确信内马尔会永远留在巴萨。巴托梅乌说:“我们以为不会有人会花这么多钱来挖人,然而事与愿违。”

事实上,巴托梅乌未能预见到一个重要的潜在威胁:与巴萨不一样,很多俱乐部基本上拥有无限的资金可供挥霍,而且这类俱乐部的数量越来越多。例如,巴黎圣日尔曼的东家是卡塔尔体育投资基金,后者是全球最富有国家的一支主权基金。其他财大气粗的所有者包括曼城俱乐部的所有者阿联酋的谢赫·曼苏尔本·扎耶德·阿勒·纳赫扬(阿联酋的酋长之一——译者注),以及切尔西足球俱乐部的老板俄罗斯寡头执政者罗曼·阿布拉莫维奇。

巴萨自家购买球员的策略也受到了审查。去年,巴托梅乌和内马尔等人被要求出庭受审,原因在于巴萨2013年从巴西俱乐部购买内马尔的交易涉嫌腐败。该案件仍在审理,巴萨希望“在庭审之前达成和解协议。”

内马尔加入巴黎圣日耳曼让巴萨感到异常不安,因为它害怕有人会挖走梅西这一俱乐部目前最宝贵的资产。数亿球迷之所以会观看巴萨的比赛,很大程度上是来看梅西如何横扫球场,然后一次又一次地将球送入网中。西班牙体育报《AS》巴塞罗那主编圣地亚哥·吉梅内兹·布朗科说:“整个俱乐部靠的就是梅西。”如果30岁的梅西转到其他俱乐部,会发生什么事情?“会引起内战”,布朗科说道。

The growing worry among some fans and industry executives is that clubs might increasingly struggle to keep pace with the financial demands. “It is not real, and it is not sustainable,” says Jaume Roures, CEO of MediaPro, the television and communications company headquartered in Barcelona.

If you’re looking for a tipping point in the business of global football, it was surely the day last August when Paris Saint-Germain, or PSG, bought the star Brazilian striker Neymar from Barça for 222 million euros (more than $270 million) in the biggest transfer in football history. That sum was Neymar’s “buyout clause”—the figure, written into his 2013 contract, which another club would need to pay Barça to acquire him. At the time the contract was written, the figure seemed so outrageous that Barça felt sure he would never leave. “We thought nobody would ever pay this,” Bartomeu says. “But somebody came and paid it.”

In fact, Bartomeu had failed to foresee a major looming threat: the growing number of clubs that—unlike Barça—have virtually limitless funds to tap. PSG, for instance, is owned by Qatar Sports Investments, a sovereign fund of one of the richest countries in the world. Other deep-pocketed owners include the United Arab Emirates’ Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who owns Manchester City, and Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club.

Barça has faced scrutiny for its own tactics in procuring talent. Last year, Bartomeu and Neymar, among others, were ordered to stand trial for corruption in relation to Barcelona’s deal in 2013 to acquire Neymar from his club team in Brazil. The case is still pending; Barça says it hopes to “reach an agreement before the trial.”

The loss of Neymar to PSG touched off intense nervousness in Barça, who feared a raid on Messi—by far its most valuable asset. Hundreds of millions of fans watch Barça matches, in good part to see Messi sweep across the field and put the ball into the net, goal after goal. “The entire enterprise depends on Messi,” says Santiago Giménez Blanco, the Barcelona editor of Spain’s sports paper AS. What would happen if Messi, 30, moved to another club? “There would be civil war,” Blanco says.

诺坎普球场在售的梅西球衣。Photograph by Javier Luengo for Fortune

由于非常害怕失去梅西,巴萨在去年11月与他签署了一份新合同,而此时距离他签署前一份合同才过去5个月。协议内容处于保密状态。然而,德国杂志《Der Spiegel 》1月公布了其声称来自于俱乐部的文件,上面显示梅西当前的年收入超过了1亿欧元。新合同将梅西的买断费提升至7亿欧元,约合8.66亿美元。巴托梅乌说:“我们害怕有人会支付这笔买断费,然后挖走梅西。”

去年,梅西自己也吃上了官司,西班牙法院认定他和他的父亲逃税罪名成立。随后,梅西21个月监禁的裁决被改判成28.8万美元的罚款,而他的父亲则需支付22.2万美元的罚款。

尽管巴托梅乌对此感到忧心忡忡,但巴萨自己也是此轮球员身价暴涨的幕后主要推手之一。去年夏天,以2.22亿欧元出售内马尔的余热还未消散,巴萨便掀起了洒金狂潮。它从德国多特蒙德足球俱乐部手中以1.05亿美元购买了20岁的法国球员奥斯曼·丹姆布雷,而他是多特蒙德俱乐部刚刚在一年前花了1500万欧元从法国俱乐部挖来的球员。1月,巴萨又以1.6亿欧元(约合2亿美元)的价格签约了利物浦足球俱乐部的中场菲利佩·库蒂尼奥,创下了体育史上第二高的转会费,而此时离内马尔转会刚刚过去了三个月。

在巴萨观察员看来,购买两名球员的举动说明俱乐部十分恐慌。巴塞罗那体育经纪人约瑟普·玛利亚·明古拉说:“这些球员的实际价值连巴萨出价的一半都不到。”他表示,内马尔的离开对于俱乐部的管理者们来说是一种背叛,让他们感到十分恼火。“他们承受了很大的压力。”作为一名功臣,明古拉在梅西这位阿根廷少年来到巴塞罗那学院之后,于2001年促成了梅西与巴萨的首次签约。从那时开始,梅西的出现便树立了俱乐部惜才爱才的美誉,这一声誉对于吸引顶级球员和促成企业合作至关重要。

巴萨在欧洲已经达到了家喻户晓的地步,但它将美国看作其主要的增长市场。2016年,俱乐部在纽约曼哈顿组建了美国业务,巴萨用蓝、红和褐红色彩点亮了帝国大厦,以庆祝俱乐部拉近了与美国主要赞助商的距离。今年春天,俱乐部在纽约国王公园开设了一个训练学校,巴托梅乌表示,俱乐部计划在明年组建一支女子足球队。

然而,巴萨的根从未动摇过。当梅西、皮克和其他球员在赛前从更衣室前往球场时,他们都会走过体育场下面的地道。在踏上草坪飞奔之前,他们最后看到的是嵌在地道墙内的一个小神龛。在那里,一尊蒙特塞拉特圣母神像静静地注视着每位球员,怀里抱着婴儿耶稣。蒙特塞拉特圣母是加泰罗尼亚最知名的宗教象征,也是巴萨的守护神。

谁知道有多少球员曾驻足祈祷?但圣母像还有另一个目的:她提醒着球员巴萨对加泰罗尼亚的深情,以及加泰罗尼亚长期以来的独立斗争。皮克说:“巴萨是加泰罗尼亚的一切,目前是加泰罗尼亚最重要的机构。”

巴托梅乌和董事都是义务为巴萨工作,而且其6年任期即将过半。(巴托梅乌的日常工作是担任Adelte公司的首席执行官,这是一家专门从事客运通道生产的工程公司。)所有董事的众多祖辈都生活在加泰罗尼亚。他们在巴萨的职务也让他们成为了当地的明星。企业高管兼董事会副主席马内·阿罗约说:“在加泰罗尼亚,进入巴萨董事会不仅仅是一种荣耀。”他还说:“董事们有必要了解俱乐部的感受,它与国家、加泰罗尼亚、巴萨历史上的所有元素息息相关。”

Deeply anxious about losing Messi, Barça signed a new contract with him last November, only five months after it had signed the previous one. The details are secret. But in January the German magazine Der Spiegel published documents it said originated from the club, showing that Messi will now earn more than 100 million euros a year. The new contract boosts Messi’s buyout to 700 million euros, or some $866 million. “We were afraid somebody could come and pay Leo Messi’s buyout clause,” says Bartomeu.

Messi faced legal troubles of his own last year when he and his father were found guilty of tax evasion in Spain. The star’s 21-month prison sentence was changed to a fine of $288,000, and his father was ordered to pay $222,000.

For all Bartomeu’s fears, Barça has played a key role in the quickly rising inflation. Flush with 222 million euros from selling Neymar to PSG, Barça went on a spending spree last summer. It bought Ousmane Dembélé, a 20-year-old Frenchman, from the German club Borussia Dortmund for about 105 million euros—just one year after Dortmund had bought the young player from a French club for 15 million euros. And in January, Barcelona signed the Liverpool FC midfielder Philippe Coutinho for 160 million euros (about $200 million)—the second-biggest transfer in the sport’s history, after Neymar just three months before.

To the Barça watchers, the purchase of both players suggested that the club was panicked. “They are not worth half of what they paid,” says Josep Maria Minguella, a sports agent in Barcelona. The club’s managers “felt betrayed and upset” by Neymar’s departure, he says. “They were under a lot of pressure.” Minguella is credited with securing Messi’s initial commitment with Barça in 2001, after the Argentinian teen had arrived at the Barcelona academy. Since that time, Messi has come to define the club’s reputation for snagging spectacular players—a reputation essential to attracting top players and generating corporate partnerships.

Already massively popular across Europe, Barça sees the U.S. as its major growth area. And in 2016 it opened a U.S. operation in Manhattan—New York lit up the Empire State Building in Barça’s blue, red, and maroon colors to celebrate—putting the club closer to major U.S. sponsors. This spring it is opening a training academy in King’s Park, N.Y., and Bartomeu says it plans to launch a women’s soccer team next year.

Barça’s roots are unquestioned, however. When Messi, Piqué, and the rest of the team make their way from the dressing room to the pitch before a match, they pass through a tunnel under the stadium. One of the last sights they see before sprinting on to the grass is a small chapel cut into the tunnel wall. There, calmly staring out at the players, is a replica of the Virgin of Montserrat, Catalonia’s most famous religious icon and its patron saint, with Baby Jesus on her lap.

Who knows how many players pause for prayer? But the Virgin serves another purpose: She reminds the team of Barça’s deep attachment to Catalonia and its long struggle for autonomy from Spain. “[FC] Barcelona is everything for Catalonia,” says Piqué. “It is by far the most important institution in Catalonia,” he says.

Bartomeu and the board of directors are unpaid, and about halfway through their six-year terms. (For his day job, Bartomeu is the CEO of Adelte, an engineering company specializing in passenger walkways.) All of the directors trace their Catalan roots back many generations. And their positions at Barça give them celebrity status in the region. “In Catalonia, to be on the board of FC Barcelona is more than an honor,” says board vice president Manel Arroyo, also a business executive. “It is important you understand the sensibility of this club,” he says. “It is being in connection with the country, with Catalonia, with all the elements around FC Barcelona, in all our history.”

球迷高举加泰罗尼亚旗帜,抒发加泰人的自豪感。Getty Images

1899年圣诞前夜,当巴萨的创立者们着手组织第一场对抗赛时并没有想这么多。他们中的大多数人都是初来乍到。但在随后的几十年里,人们会聚集在体育场里,高唱加泰歌曲并挥舞加泰地区旗帜。当时的俱乐部主席约瑟普·索诺尔是支持加泰独立的激进分子,后在西班牙内战遇害。如今,每年吸引约200万参观者的巴萨俱乐部博物馆一直在纪念着索诺尔。在弗朗西斯科·弗朗哥将军独裁的35年里,巴萨球迷被禁止吟唱加泰歌曲。这样的压迫在巴萨和皇马之间制造了紧张和敌对,而且这种局面一直延续至今。作家吉米·伯恩斯在他的书《巴萨:人们的激情》(Barça: A People’s Passion)中写道:“对巴萨球迷来说,皇马不光是得到了弗朗哥的支持,它就是弗朗哥。”

近几个月,往昔的紧张局势再次浮现。去年10月,加泰领导人不顾西班牙政府反对举行了独立公投;90%的加泰人投了赞成票(只是参加公投的人数仅占注册选民的42%)。近六个月后,巴塞罗那居民的窗户和阳台外仍到处可见赞成独立的标语。加泰领导人卡尔斯·普伊格蒙特单方面宣布加泰独立后流亡布鲁塞尔,以免自己可能因煽动罪而被捕。

对巴萨来说,这场动乱带来的是痛苦。下定决心让俱乐部保持中立的巴托梅乌决定在公投当天按计划进行比赛,当时西班牙警察正在突袭投票站,并用警棍对投票者大打出手。如果取消当天的比赛,巴萨就会失去西甲联赛积分。因此巴托梅乌下令在没有观众的情况下比赛。他说:“我们想向世界表明,这是一场意义独特的赛事。”但这项决定激怒了一些俱乐部成员,后者认为巴托梅乌应支持公投;两位俱乐部董事递交了辞呈。公投前,慷慨激昂而又怒火中烧的皮克在推特上对1800万粉丝说“我们会去投票”。踢了这场没有观众的比赛后,皮克在摄像机前流下了眼泪,说这是自己职业生涯中最糟糕的一天,还威胁要退出西班牙国家队。几个月后,他告诉我:“我们的处境非常困难。巴萨必须成为比以往更能代表加泰的俱乐部。”

不过,和所有的政治头条相比,财政结构对巴萨生存状况的影响要大得多。这家会员制俱乐部有143855名注册会员。顶级足球俱乐部中采用这种运作方式的不多,巴萨是其中之一。俱乐部主席和董事会人选以及关键事务都由所有年满18岁的会员在年度大会上投票决定。

That was hardly on the minds of Barça’s founders, when they organized the first pick-up game on Christmas Eve in 1899. Most were newcomers to the area. But in the decades following, people packed the stadium, chanting Catalonian songs and waving Catalonia’s flag. Club president Josep Sunyol, a militant pro-independence Catalan, was assassinated during the Spanish Civil War, and is now memorialized in the club’s museum, which draws about 2 million tourists a year. During Spain’s 35-year dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Barça fans were ba nned from singing Catalan songs. That repression helped create the intense rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid, which continues today. “As far as Barça fans were concerned, Real Madrid was not just backed by Franco, it was Franco,” writes the author Jimmy Burns in his book Barça: A People’s Passion.

In recent months, those old tensions have exploded to the surface. Last October, Catalonia’s leaders defied the Spanish government by holding an independence referendum; 90% of Catalans voted sí (although only 42% of registered voters went to the polls). Nearly six months later, sí banners are still hanging from windows and balconies across the city. Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont is holed up in exile in Brussels, after declaring Catalonia’s unilateral independence from Madrid, and then fleeing possible arrest for sedition.

For Barça, the upheaval has been painful. Determined for the club to remain neutral, Bartomeu allowed a scheduled match to go ahead on the referendum day, at the very moment when Spanish police were storming polling stations and beating voters with truncheons. Canceling the game that day would have cost the team points in the Spanish league, La Liga. So Bartomeu ordered the game to be played with no spectators. “We wanted to show the world that something unique was happening,” he says. But the decision enraged some members who believed Bartomeu should have supported the vote; two board members resigned. Impassioned and angry, Piqué tweeted to his 18 million followers before the referendum, “We will vote.” And after the closed-door match, he wept on camera, saying it had been the worst day of his professional life, and threatening to quit the Spanish national team. “We are in a very difficult situation here,” he tells me, months later. “Barcelona has to be a club that represents Catalonia more than ever now.”

For all its hot politics, however, it is Barça’s financial structure that will have a far bigger impact on how well it survives. The franchise is owned by 143,855 members—one of the few top clubs that operates this way. All Barça members over 18 vote for the president and the board, as well as on key issues at yearly assemblies.

2016年9月,巴萨驻纽约办事处成立,俱乐部前球星罗纳尔迪尼奥到纽约市布朗克斯区的一所公共学校和孩子们踢球。巴萨打算扩展在美国的业务。Getty Images

巴托梅乌把巴萨俱乐部描述为一个广泛的民主群体,会员以及许多球员都觉得自己和俱乐部有着紧密的联系。但这些注册会员(西班牙语称为socios)形成了一个封闭世界。他们几乎都是加泰人,而且第二代和第三代加泰会员越来越多,原因是俱乐部会员不对外开放,而身为会员的父母在孩子出生时就会为他们做了注册。和许多人一样,皮克一出生就被祖父注册为巴萨会员,他也在自己的两个孩子(与哥伦比亚歌星夏奇拉所生)出生时给他们注册了会员。皮克说:“我非常爱这家俱乐部。它就像我的家。”

会员每年缴纳的年费不多,为180欧元。八年来这个数字一直没有提高过。会员们至少有获得季票的机会。巴托梅乌说:“想获得现场座位的会员非常多。我的大儿子19岁了,也已经等了19年。”

随着成本不断上升,注册会员缴纳的会费如今只占巴萨收入的5%。由于大多数座位都分配给了会员,这家俱乐部通过球票销售来筹集资金的能力有限。虽然其他俱乐部也面临这样的问题,但在巴萨,要想通过提高球票价格来扩大利润,就得由会员投票表决,而他们不太可能做出这样的决定。

在巴萨还有一件怪事:它要求当选的主席和董事会成员把15%的收入作为抵押,以防俱乐部出现亏损。在俱乐部年收入为10亿欧元的情况下,抵押的金额可能达到750万欧元。

尽管如此,董事会成员仍会被巴萨会不会转让或向更传统的盈利模式转型的问题吓一跳。董事会副主席马内尔·阿罗约表示:“不,永远不会。它是我们的俱乐部,是会员的。”这和我采访的其他人口径一致。阿罗约说:“提出要收购巴萨的人来自世界各地,我们则说:‘这和钱无关’。”

也许吧。这也让巴萨在商业主义泛滥的职业体育界成为一股清流,讽刺的是,这反而提高了它的知名度,并为它赢得了数以百万计的粉丝。

但巴萨继续跻身顶尖行列的能力取决于它的财力。全球性电信咨询和投资公司Delta Partners首席执行官维克多·方特认为:“对一家由15万会员所有的俱乐部来说,保持会员制很难,而既保持会员制又在最顶级层次上继续竞争也很难。”外界认为方特有可能是2021年接替巴托梅乌的人选之一。和巴托梅乌以及皮克一样,方特还是婴儿时就成了巴萨会员,他的父亲和祖父也是如此。2015年,随着人们越发担心巴萨的长期生命力,方特为俱乐部撰写了战略规划,名为《Sí al Futur》,意思是“对未来说是”。他说会员基本都很满意,因为巴萨不断地取得冠军。但他把这种放松态度比喻为忽视气候变化:“如果觉得天气宜人,就很难看到气候变化的到来。”

方特的战略可能意味着重大突破,而且随着其他俱乐部尝试实现经营的现代化,他们可以将其作为借鉴的对象。按照他的方案,巴萨将更像一家跨国企业,而且有能力利用自己巨大的全球声望。方特表示,像巴萨这样极为知名的俱乐部应该更多地利用其巨大的粉丝群体来做商业文章。他还估算,目前每位粉丝每年给巴萨带来的价值只有2美元。如果巴萨找到每个月向每位粉丝收1美元的途径,比如订阅流媒体比赛视频,那么4亿粉丝每年就能带来60亿美元的收入。方特还相信巴萨应该掌握自己的形象权,并直接销售商品,而不是让耐克、阿迪达斯等公司拿走大部分蛋糕:“俱乐部在足球价值链上发挥的作用非常小。”

方特并非提出重大改革建议的第一人,而且他的顾虑和许多足球界人士一样。2008年,八位董事因为对巴萨未来方向的争议而辞职,其中包括时任俱乐部副主席的费尔南·索里亚诺,他一直在敦促巴萨向全世界开放。注册会员否决了这样的想法,因为他们担心这有可能动摇巴萨的加泰根基。

如今索里亚诺已成为英超曼城俱乐部CEO,他帮助这家俱乐部建立了曼城足球集团,由阿布扎比和中国投资方共同拥有。这个集团持有世界上六家足球俱乐部的股份,这很像索里亚诺在巴萨受挫的方案。英国《卫报》称之为体育界的“第一家真正跨国公司,足球界的可口可乐。”

但巴萨会员也许永远也不会同意把他们挚爱的俱乐部变成一件全球性商品。但一个切入点也许是由深入了解足球行业的人组成有薪酬的董事会,进而为俱乐部CEO奥斯卡·格拉乌设定战略方向,而不是像现在这样依靠不拿薪水的董事们来监管运营事务。皮克说:“我知道他们全心全意,但他们的管理工作是无偿的。我觉得要改变这种情况。”

皮克已经建立了一家电子游戏公司,还是一家眼镜公司的大股东,而且也越来越多地参与到经营战略中。2017年他报名参加了哈佛商学院的高管课程,还说希望几年后自己彻底退役了可以管理巴萨俱乐部。

方特也认为巴萨的管理应该变得更专业。他说:“应该有个合适的董事会,就像苹果公司或优步的那样。”对于董事会的经营业绩,应该有一个真正的衡量指标,而不是联赛冠军。方特说:“比如他们能否在2030年进行竞争。”

对在拉玛西亚青训营踢球的孩子们来说,2030年巴萨的情形如何可能给他们的未来带来巨大影响。他们都希望到那个时候,也就是12年后,自己的名字能出现在青训营的荣誉墙上——那上面有几十位小时候从这里起步的巨星,比如安德烈斯·伊涅斯塔和佩普·瓜迪奥拉。

但进入他们的行列并非易事。拉玛西亚综合运动员护理服务部门负责人安娜·梅拉约说:“只有5%的球员能进入一队。我们总会为他们制定现实生活的备选方案,比如上学。”她带我进入了一间教室,十几岁的球员们正在那里学习金融。一位教师正在用几百欧元的交易进行举例讲解。但教室里孩子们的梦想要大得多——到2030年,许多球员都有可能获得梅西那样的九位数收入。而且大多数球员都希望就在这儿,通过在巴塞罗那的球场上踢球来挣到这笔钱。(财富中文网)

译者:Charlie

审校:冯丰

Bartomeu describes the club as an exercise in popular democracy, and members—and many players—feel intensely attached to it. Yet the socios, as members are known, make up a closed world. Virtually all are from Catalonia, and increasingly, they are the children or grandchildren of members, since membership has long been closed to outsiders; parents sign their children up at birth. Piqué, like many others, was made a member at birth by his grandfather, and signed up his two children, with Colombian pop star Shakira, at birth too. “I love this club very much,” he says. “It is like my home.”

Members pay a relatively tiny 180-euro annual fee. That figure has not increased in eight years. Membership offers at least a chance of landing season tickets. “We have a waiting list of members wanting a seat,” Bartomeu says. “My oldest son is 19, and he’s been on the waiting list for 19 years.”

With Barça’s ballooning costs, the membership fees from its socios today generate just 5% of its revenue. Since most seats are assigned to members, its ability to raise money from ticket sales is limited. While other clubs also face that problem, at Barça, members would need to vote to raise ticket prices in order to generate more profits—a decision they are unlikely to take.

There is another oddity at Barça too: The president and board members are required to put up 15% of the club’s yearly revenues as collateral when they’re voted in, as a guarantee against possible losses. That sum could reach 7.5 million euros each, once club revenues are 1 billion euros a year.

Despite that, board members are aghast when asked if Barça would ever be sold or transformed into a more traditional profit-making business. “No. Never. It is our club. The members,” says Manel Arroyo, the board’s vice president, echoing the response of others I ask. “People come here from different parts of the world, asking to buy the club,” he says. “We say, ‘It is not about the money.’ ”

Perhaps not. And as such, Barça is a refreshing change from the heavy commercialism of pro sports—a fact that ironically boosts its brand and wins over millions of fans.

But Barça’s ability to remain on top will depend on money. “It will be hard for a club owned by 150,000 members to either keep this ownership model, or if it keeps it, to continue competing at the very top level,” says Victor Font, CEO of Delta Partners, a global telecom advisory and investment firm, who is considered one possible successor to Bartomeu in 2021. Font, like Bartomeu and Piqué, has been a Barça member since he was an infant, as were his father and grandfather, and in 2015 authored a strategy plan for the club called Sí al Futur, or “Yes to the future,” after growing concerned over its long-term viability. He says members are generally content, since Barça continues to win titles. But he likens that relaxed attitude to ignoring climate change, saying, “If you are enjoying the weather, it is difficult to see it coming.”

Font’s strategy would mark a sharp break—and perhaps offer a blueprint for other clubs, as they try to modernize their operations. Under his plan, Barça would become something more resembling a multinational enterprise, able to capitalize on its giant global popularity. He says it makes no sense that a hugely well-known club like Barça doesn’t do more to monetize its massive fan base. He estimates each fan is worth just $2 a year to Barça now. If the club found a way to charge each fan a dollar a month—say, by subscribing to video-streamed matches—then 400 million fans would generate $6 billion a year. He also believes Barça should own its image rights and sell merchandise directly, rather than allowing Nike, Adidas, and others to claim the lion’s share of the value. “Clubs play a very small role in the value chain of football,” he says.

Font is not the first to suggest dramatic changes—and he echoes the worries of many in the football world. In 2008, eight Barça board members quit after disputes over future direction. Among them was then vice president Ferran Soriano, who had pushed to open Barça franchises around the world. The socios blocked the idea, fearing it might dilute the club’s Catalan roots.

Today Soriano is CEO of Manchester City football club in the U.K.’s Premier League, where he helped set up City Football Group, or CFG, a company jointly owned by Abu Dhabi and China. The group holds stakes in six clubs across the world—much like Soriano’s thwarted vision for Barça. Britain’s Guardian newspaper calls it the sport’s “first truly multinational corporation—a Coca-Cola of soccer.”

Barça’s socios might never accept turning their beloved club into a global commodity. But one start might be installing a paid board with deep knowledge of the football industry, which would set the strategic direction for team CEO Oscar Grau, rather than relying on unpaid directors to oversee operations, as Barça does now. “I know they are fully focused, but they don’t earn any money to run it,” Piqué says. “I think this is something that has to be changed.”

Having founded a video game company, and with major investments in an eyewear company, Piqué is increasingly involved in business strategy himself; in 2017 he underwent an executive program at Harvard Business School, and he says he hopes to run Barça in the future, after he finally retires from football, probably in a few years’ time.

Font agrees it is time for more professional FC Barcelona management. “The board should be a proper board, like the board of Apple or Uber,” he says. Instead of winning league trophies, there should be one true measure of how well the board is running Barça, he says: “Whether they will be able to compete in 2030.”

How Barça fares in 2030 could have a drastic impact on the future of the boys kicking footballs at La Masia academy. Each one hopes that by that time—12 years from now—their names might be added to the honor roll on a wall in the academy, listing dozens of the major stars who began as children here: Andrés Iniesta, Pep Guardiola, and others.

But breaking into those ranks will not be easy. “Only about 5% make it to the first team,” says Ana Merayo, who runs La Masia’s Comprehensive Athlete Care Service. “We always give them a plan B in real life, like academics.” She leads me into a classroom of teenage players studying finance. There a teacher shows examples of transactions worth a few hundred euros. But the boys in class have far bigger dreams: By 2030, nine-figure earnings like Messi’s could be within reach of many players. And most hope the money will be earned right here, driving balls between the goalposts in Barcelona.

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