10 Things the Media Doesn't Get About Barcelona
It's sometimes difficult to root for the best teams if you don't support the club—especially if that particular side has dominated domestic, European and international honours for so long.
That initial impartiality turns to envy, which quickly develops into disdain.
Jealousy is rife in the world and soccer is no different.
We don't like success if we're not involved. Our initial admiration can unravel into a full blown hatred.
And for what reason? Being the best.
It's a sad indictment of society today but unfortunately an accepted trait of human nature.
And it's not just the average sports fan who has this view—many of people's thoughts and emotions are directly influenced by the media—and for that, they have to take a lot of the blame.
Every successful sports franchise has to cope with it on a daily basis—whether it's the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers or the New England Patriots.
FC Barcelona are no different.
Here are 10 things the media don't get about Barcelona....
The Shirt Sponsorship Deal
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Many of Barcelona's "haters" came out of the woodwork following their $200 million shirt sponsorship deal with Qatar Foundation.
Selling out was the buzz word used by the media to describe the club's first ever corporate deal.
Yet there was very little praise or indeed credit given to the fact that they wore the UNICEF logo for five of the most successful years in the club's history without ever asking for a single dollar.
During that time they donated well over $10 million to the charity via the Barcelona Foundation.
Of course, from a "feel good factor" the deal was never going to be a crowd-pleaser, but there comes a time when you have to bite the bullet and accept a deal that will secure the future of the club.
They posted a record loss of $115 million the year before announcing the deal, increasing their overall debt to over $600 million.
Yes the shirt may have lost some of it's sacred appeal, but at the same time making that commitment to the charity for so long should be commended, not disrespected.
I don't see too many other clubs who did this or will ever do this again until money becomes irrelevant.
In the mean time, those detractors will continue to write about, praise and laud over plenty of teams with a variety of big shirt deals advertising every gambling establishment available. Congratulations!
Lack of Sexy Storylines
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It is widely agreed that the Spanish press are more intrusive than most—and that's putting it politely.
It's a journalist's job to get that exclusive headline, that controversial quote, the "misquoted" retort.
And it's a frustration to many that FC Barcelona very rarely come out with any of these statements.
Many can't understand why? The biggest club with the biggest players should use their exposure to their benefit.
Not here—they believe in the team both on and off the pitch.
Every answer is deliberated and answered with a well thought out response and although unremarkable, it should be respected and not treated with frustration.
Too many people continue to run their mouth without a care for the consequences, just as long as their own personal exposure is heightened.
But if you want an example of how to carry yourself as a true professional, attend a Barcelona press conference.
Their "More Than a Club" Motto
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Many people misunderstand the "More than a Club" motto taking the meaning as one of arrogance. That could not be further from the truth.
It represents an internal family model that should be praised and adopted by other clubs rather than the being continually knocked by the powers that be.
The term refers to their members or the "socios" and the importance they have in the future of FC Barcelona.
Every single person has a voice and a vote in what is essentially a stable mini government.
They have a say in all major decisions and a vote when it comes to choosing a new club president.
Clubs today make most decisions because of money and power, disregarding any thoughts and opinions the fans may have.
FC Barcelona truly is a club made by the people for the people, and that should be celebrated.
Barcelona Humor: Cesc Fabregas
For anyone who hasn't seen Barca Toons—shame on you!
This one is a classic following the signing of Cesc Fabregas.
It's a typically tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Cesc's arrival at Camp Nou.
Following Spain's 2010 World Cup win, many of the Barcelona players forced Fabregas to wear the club's shirt without his initial knowledge.
So for the many that feel Barcelona players are essentially robots who can't poke fun at themselves, they are very much mistaken.
Of course, the hyper critical will still shoot down Barcelona for their pursuit of the midfielder, but this happens every single season with the majority of top flight clubs. It's part and parcel of soccer as we know it, and in this case no rules were broken and no fines were issued.
At least they do it with humor.
Diving Is an Art: Everyone Does It
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The media constantly portray eleven players from Catalonia to be professional divers.
I'm not going to write arguing that they do not, however it is completely wrong to single out FC Barcelona as the team who are the main culprits.
Everyone makes full use of artistic license when it comes to gaining free-kicks and penalties.
It doesn't matter whether it's in Europe, Africa, America or the Far East, it happens in every game on more than one occasion.
The problem is when Barcelona do it, it's a world wide talking point.
They are victims of their own success.
Every single Barcelona game is televised around the world—they are the most desirable team to watch and rightly so.
But the problem comes with each incident being analysed in such great depth that of course it's going to be an issue.
But it's a problem that should be dealt with collectively and not just left at the door of the Camp Nou.
And with the likes of Messi at 5'7" (barely), the slightest touch or flick against a 6'5" centre back when running at full pace can be enough to take the maestro down.
It may be frustrating for the opposition when the free-kick is given, but the fact is it's a foul—no matter how innocuous the contact appears to be.
The media need to realise this and be a little more understanding.
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The world's media would like nothing more than the two fiercest rivals going head-to-head both on and off the pitch.
Whilst Madrid build up the fixture with a series of controversial comments and the predictable mind games, Barcelona are much more mild mannered and complementary when asked about their arch-rivals
Of course this perception might change dramatically behind closed doors, but outwardly Barca are collectively humble regarding their opposition before, during and after a game.
Unfortunately certain rivals cannot control their own emotion when results do not go the way their self-obsessed hype predicted it to.
The lack of reaction from the Barca camp irks plenty in the media searching for a big headline but they're just fine with that.
So the big headlines are often saved for the Madrid's of this world before the game while Barca make their own headlines on the pitch.
Their Private Lives Are Private
Unlike the Cristiano Ronaldo's of this world, the majority of Barcelona player's private lives are kept just that—private.
Of course the media intrusion today is at an incredibly high level but while many try to shy away from the spotlight, plenty more embrace it in the wrong way.
Pep Guardiola always told his players that they have a responsibility both on and off the pitch to FC Barcelona. They represent the club at all times.
While this might not be helpful to the media, the benefits are seen for 90 minutes every single week.
How many times have you seen Lionel Messi being dragged out of a club at 3 a.m. or Carles Puyol involved in yet another kiss and tell story?
The answer is never.
Gerard Pique's recent relationship with Shakira received so much press attention because it was one of the few times the media had an opportunity to cross into the world of celebrity.
And what happens? Injury and loss of form make it a season to forget for the Spanish defender. It comes as no surprise that he could be one of the players Vilanova may sell to bring in new blood.
You have to represent La Blaugrana in the correct way.
Knowing How to Lose
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Respect, grace and humility are three words to best describe the Catalan's reaction when they are beaten.
And boy did they need to be gracious this season.
At the beginning of April it all looked so good at Camp Nou.
They were back in the La Liga title race and one good home performance away from the Champions League final.
We all know what happened.
After the final whistle there is obvious disappointment but at the same time the sportsmanship shown is admirable.
There is no refusal to shake hands or constant arguments with the referee. That is just not the Barcelona way.
They always praise the opposition and show unparalleled focus to move on and come back stronger than ever.
Honouring Their Own
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How many times do clubs move on from past managers as if they never existed?
They constantly live in the present and forget what happened before.
Not at Barcelona. You never leave the family.
There are very few past players or managers who bad mouth the club following their spell at Camp Nou.
The recent love towards Pep Guardiola was so genuine and heartfelt that it moved the 41-year-old to tears.
How many other clubs would show the same amount of respect to a manager who resigned from the club after relinquishing both their Champions League and La Liga titles?
Barcelona's senior players even attended the official media press conference as Guardiola announced his retirement to the world.
Of course they had already been told their talismanic head coach was leaving, but it was a touching token of support in what was arguably the most difficult press conference he had ever given.
Every former player and coach is always welcomed back with open arms—well maybe not Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
They Are Unique: Enjoy It
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It may take a few years for the media to truly appreciate the golden generation of Barcelona football that has graced Camp Nou.
My advice is enjoy it while it lasts because you may never see the players nor the style of football for a very long time.
When someone like Pep Guardiola admits that this is a very special era that may never be replicated you should stand up and take notice.
The current team have changed the way football is played, watched and reported.
Lionel Messi could very well be the greatest player ever to have graced a football pitch but he also needs ten other men to bring out the very best in the Argentinean.
The football played over the last five years has been quite remarkable and sometimes you just have to sit back, watch and applaud an era of football that may never be replicated.
Who knows? The golden age may already be over as Barca enter into the unknown under Tito Vilanova.
But one thing is for certain: in ten years time the media will be far more complimentary to this Barcelona dynasty than they are now.