Long Pass
    Category: Forbes Life By : Yessar Rosendar Read : 1161 Date : Friday, February 13, 2015 - 19:20:44

    Edy Purnomo for Forbes Indonesia

    With a population of more than 4 billion, Asia is a significant market for any sports team in the world, especially major football teams such as Manchester United and Real Madrid. Tycoon Erick Thohir, for example, has just bought Italian club Inter Milan. Spanish football giant FC Barcelona is joining the fray and making its Asia play. It opened an office in Hong Kong two years ago to boost its brand presence. The second most powerful figure in the club, FC Barcelona Vice President Javier Faus, recently made his first visit in Asia last October, including stops in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Jakarta and Singapore. “We want to be close to the region, close to our clients and to our fans, of which we have a lot in the region,” Javier says in an exclusive interview with Forbes Indonesia when he visited Jakarta.

    Despite China having a larger population, Indonesia is currently the largest market for FC Barcelona in terms of a fan base. The Club’s Indonesian Twitter account has more than 150,000 followers, a number that has doubled in the last year. And there are also over a million followers of Barça’s LINE account in the country. The club’s Facebook page has 7.7 million followers from Indonesia. “The amount of passion for football that we found in Indonesia is higher than in other countries, so we going to strengthen our presence here,” Javier says.

    Based on Forbes football valuations as of last May, FC Barcelona is the second highest in the world in term of revenue and has an estimated value of $3.2 billion. It is still behind its archrival, Real Madrid, that currently is in the top spot with revenue of $675 million and an estimated value of $3.4 billion. Currently Asia only contributed 1% to Barcelona revenue that reached $627 million for the 2012/2013 seasons.

    But according to Javier, the club’s priority is not about financials and more on building the fan base, “We want to enhance our brand in Asia, to grow our fan base here that will be the biggest market in the world for football in the next few decades,” Javier says. To grow its fan base, it plans to do more partnering with local partners and become more active in social media. After it opened its office in Hong Kong, it signed its first deal in Indonesia with local smartphone and tech manufacturer Advan that has released several FC Barcelona branded smartphones. “We are currently expanding to grab more markets and partnering with FC Barcelona, which has a significant number of fans, is a sound strategy,” says Andy Gusena, brand strategy and marketing of Advan, in a press release.

    Aside from local partnerships, the club also aims to have more physical presence by having the team playing an exhibition game in Indonesia. “We expect to come to Indonesia and play a game soon,” Javier says without giving more details on when the team will visit the country.