European Soccer Stadiums Road Trip Vol. 1

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I fulfilled a dream that many soccer fans around the world have.  For even if you do not support the team, you know and respect the history of the club and the place they play.

Yes, it is Barça, the Futbol Club Barcelona and my visit to Camp Nou, the stadium of F.C. Barcelona (hereinafter referred to as FCB).

One remarkable thing about FCB is that the team is owned by fans of Barcelona and select the leadership through election. Nobody can purchase stock in FCB, as one can with Manchester United on the New York Stock Exchange, but someone can support the club by belonging to the sporting club through paid membership.  The club has become one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world, which has come through its historical significance to the people of the region, on the field performance, super star player signings, and global branding.  These have led to a passionate global fan base hungry for licensed products and sponsors wanting to reach those fans. This is much the same for collectors, who want autographed cards of Messi.

Unfortunately, there were no matches being played when I visited, but I was fortunate enough to get a stadium tour.  To be honest with you, my favorite La Liga team is actually Atletico Madrid, but my respect for FCB drove me to visit.  It was fairly easy once in Barcelona thanks to their convenient public transport system and the stadium being located in the downtown area. I went there during low season, so there were no lines to get in, but in high season, reservations will save time and make it easy for you. You can buy tour tickets on the website (http://www.fcbarcelona.com/camp-nou) and some hotels also sell them.

The tour includes visit for FCB Museum, the Messi Space (unfortunately it was not opened, when I had the tour), pressroom, dressing room, broadcast booth and other places, however the highlight is obviously the playing field (or pitch).

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MÉS QUE UN CLUB

“Més que un club” means “More than a club” in Catalan which is a co-official language in a few states in Spain. The moto delivers the message of FCB clearly and accurately.  FCB has withstood extreme political pressure through the years and mean something deeper than “just” sports to the Catalan people.

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Global sponsorship partners like Qatar Airways fill the financial coffers of FCB.

 

 

 

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BUSINESS CLASS

 

The players and coaches even sit in BUSINESS CLASS on the bench.  No reclining or sleeping possible.

 

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Inside of their specially built chapel, only FCB players can pray here.

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I felt when I saw this painting was just “Nice and fancy” and I stayed only a couple of seconds passing by the illustration to take a photo. However, in addition to being a sports cards and memorabilia fanatic, I also have a limited knowledge of fine art. Therefore, I did a double take and stopped to realize that the drawing is a Juan Miró lithograph produced in honor of FCB.

 

 

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Dunk for the championship.  Kobe Bryant is a huge fan of FCB, so maybe he inspired this one.  Although, the cup appears to be older than he is.

 

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Now it is a time to get back to our major interest, seeing game/match used items and autographs.

 

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Andres Iniesta’s autographed game used shoes. It was lucky that all items are not for sale. If any game used item was for sale, I might had called  my credit card company to check monthly installment plan for overseas settlement.

 

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Basketball team FC Barcelona Lassa is a department of FCB as well and here we can see Scottie Pippen’s custom autographed Barcelona Lassa jersey. We all know Pippen had a gold medal in 1992 Barcelona Olympics as a member of Dream Team. Next to it is Pau Gasol’s game used autograph Lakers jersey.

 

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FINS AVIAT

As you leave the stadium tour and they say See you soon.

 

However, on my way home to South Korea, I had one more chance to be in a historic place of soccer memorabilia when I stopped over on Rome.

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There is a small place in the Vatican Museum, that was one of the most fascinating places for me. Jerseys, photos, soccer balls and other items from around the world given to Pope Francis with signatures on them are nicely displayed.

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This one is a gift from Diego Maradona with inscription to the Pope. It is written in Spanish: To Francis with all my love and great peace to the world.

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Can you find Lionel Messi’s autograph on the jersey? See the magazine named AFA revista at the right side which a title in Spanish: Argentina soccer team always prays for you, Francis.

 

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Are you familiar with fluent writing on yellow jersey on the right side? If you had purchased Topps and Panini’s recent soccer products, then you may have Pele’s autograph, which has same writing with the inscription here. Pele’s personal collection of memorabilia including from his four World Cup championships are included in an upcoming auction: Auction for Pele’s memorabilia

 

leo

For me, it always comes back to the importance and significance of trading cards and memorabilia. What would be the most significant soccer card in your budget? I would have to pick one of these above.  I’m thrilled and excited that the soccer card trading card content and quality is now on the same level as other sports.  Panini and Topps are doing a great job and we don’t have to wait for World Cup years anymore to get high-end cards.

 

messi copy

At this stage, I would like to introduce one company, Icons, based in Europe. Icons’ products are similar with Steiner, but one different thing is that Icons is focused on Soccer memorabilia with flawless reliability! You can see Signing Videos at the homepage. You can buy Lionel Messi’s authentic autographed photo from £149.99.

 

I hope that you get the opportunity to visit your favorite soccer locations around the world.  Please share your photos and stories with us.  We will post a follow-up and maybe include your memories here.

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