The 41st World Congress of Supporters’ Clubs, held this year remotely and watched by thousands of members of FC Barcelona and its supporters’ clubs around the world, hosted the first debate between the candidates to the FC Barcelona presidency
The Supporters’ Clubs World Confederation held today the 41st World Congress of Supporters’ Clubs, held this year without a live audience but online for the 171,000 supporters as well as all FC Barcelona members and fans around the world to watch from home. Had it not been for the outbreak of Covid-19, the event would have been held in August of last year on the occasion of the Joan Gamper Trophy. It was screened today Sunday on Barça TV and Barça TV+ and was also streamed on the FC Barcelona and Supporters’ Clubs World Confederation websites.
The 41st World Congress of Supporters’ Clubs came after a season hit in many ways by Covid-19, and just a week before the elections to the FC Barcelona presidency, two circumstances that have had a huge impact in terms of modernisation, digitalisation and internationalisation of the movement.
Looking back and ahead
After the presentation of the Confederation accounts and budget, the Congress looked back at what the movement has been doing in recent months, and particularly the way procedures have had to be adapted to pandemic restrictions. It also included a presentation of the book “El Centenari de les Penyes”, published in honour of the movement’s centenary in 2019.
The Penyes have been involved in several charity projects recently, with the 2019/20 season concluding with almost 600 actions, including those conducted during lockdown, programmes connected to the Solidarity Council and other activities carried out by Federations and individual supporters’ clubs.
“Despite the difficulties, we have remained active and maintained our essence. Indeed, the pandemic has shown more than ever what an enormously caring spirit we have”, said the president of the Confederation, Antoni Guil. “We are now going into a promising future in which we plan to continue working alongside FC Barcelona to build an even more solid, global and digitalised Penyes movement.”
Antoni Guil stressed that the aim is to keep growing internationally and to boost the sustainability of the supporters’ clubs, saying that “we want Penyes and their members to be even more at the centre of what we do, because by strengthening them we can empower and consolidate the movement as a whole.” One of the ways to do this is by deploying the Digital Identity of Penyistes, which the Confederation will start implanting in March.
Meanwhile, the president of the FC Barcelona Managing Commission, Carles Tusquets, thanked the Confederation for its work to modernise the Penyes, and highlighted what they have done to make FC Barcelona such a unique Club.
Recognition of the fight against Covid-19
In a year marked by Covid-19, the Congress wanted special recognition of what the whole movement has done to support efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic. Since lockdown began, supporters’ clubs and members have done all kinds of things to help people suffering as a consequence, including work with the Food Bank and the Blood and Tissue Bank, as well as several monetary donations, and of materials to hospitals, charities and old people’s homes.
The Confederation awarded the 6th Edmundo Bazo “Friendship” Award to Dr Antoni Trilla, Head of the Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology Service at Hospital Clinic, Barcelona. “Recognition like this encourages us to keep working until the very last minute,” said Dr Trilla. “I am sure we will win this battle.” The Confederation expressed its continued support for the current situation by donating a cheque for 5,000 euros to the Food Bank, with which it has always worked closely.
The Josep Maria Profitós Trophy, which is usually the fair play trophy at the International 7-a-Side Tournament played at the time of the Congress, was given this year to the Penya Blaugrana de Sant Cugat and the Club Barcelonista Terlenka, both members of the Agrupació de Futbol de Clubs i Penyes, in recognition of the work they have done to promote inclusion in youth football.
First debate between presidential candidates
In association with Seguiment FCB, the Confederation dedicated the second block of the event to the first debate between the three presidential candidates: Joan Laporta, Toni Freixa and Víctor Font.
All three spoke about the Club’s current situation and certain key sporting and economic aspects, but the main focus of the debate was on issues impacting the Social Area, such as the club’s ownership model, and the role of members and Penyes in its governance. Laporta, Freixa and Font also presented their plans for the Espai Barça, for Camp Nou season tickets, the Seient Lliure system, the Espai d’Animació, and management of away trips.
“We want the supporters’ clubs and Barça members that have seen the Congress at home to understand and assess the views of the candidates in relation to the projects that most concern them,” said Antoni Guil. “The Supporters’ Clubs World Confederation is once again expressing its implication to the FC Barcelona reality, and in this particular case its desire to contribute to an election process that will mean so much for the future of this Club.”