Barcelona Asia Pacific managing director Xavier Asensi has revealed that the Spanish La Liga giants are eager to take the next step in market expansion in Asia, especially Indonesia.
Asensi, who visited Malaysia to announce Barcelona’s regional partnership with air freshener brand Ambi Pur last week, said that Barcelona will prepare another tour ‘to get closer’ to their fan base in the region.
“We have a lot fans in Asia, more than Europe and the Americas combined. We are taking this region seriously but next summer there is the European Championship, Copa America and the Olympics,” he told FourFourTwo.
“Most of our players are internationals so they will only come back for pre-season much later. We need to tour when most of our players are available. We will be in Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup in December though.
“We feel that it is never too late to come into Asia and make a mark. Football is always growing. There is a big tradition for English clubs in Asia but if we look at a global scale, and taking into account the performance, Barcelona is always up there. We have been consistent in the Champions League too.”
The defending European Champions League last visited Asia in 2013, when they defeated Thailand U-23 side 7-1 and Malaysia XI 3-1, but surprisingly they did not visit Indonesia despite having a huge followers on social media from the South-East Asian nation.
“I am reluctant to put a number to the volume of fans we have in Asia. It is cheap to throw a figure around and consider it the biggest,” Asensi added.
“Social media provides a more tangible outlook. We account our fans this way. But even then, you can’t say it is definitive because it’s difficult to get numbers from China (due to their strict social network laws). What we do know is that Indonesia accounts for ten per cent of our followers worldwide.”
Indonesia are currently under suspension from FIFA and Barcelona are also aware of that situation. However, Asensi insisted that the ban will not stop the Catalans from promoting their brand in the country.
“Football is not FIFA. Football is more than FIFA. We can still go into the country by investing directly in coaching clinics and tie up with the right partners so we could leverage on the business. Our website is available in Bahasa Indonesia too,” he assured.