27 June 2010

FC Barcelona Election Day visit

We've visited Camp Nou - home of FC Barcelona - on many occasions, to watch football matches or to take the stadium tour; the latter always with guests.

FC Barcelona website.

A couple of Sundays back was a special day for the club with presidential elections being held for the first time in 7 years. Joan La Porta's often controversial, yet successful, term was up, and it was time for a new man at the helm.

Election Day was to be a big deal - a huge celebration day with events organised for the children, bands playing, as well as a special tour for club members through the stadium and onto the pitch.  You could even tour through the team bus - if you were so inclined to look in a bus.

Although everyone thinks of the FCB football team, the club also has very successful basketball, handball, indoor football (futsal) and roller hockey teams, as well as the famed La Masia which is the school for talented kids to attend both school and sports training.  This club is bigger than than just the football team, and the Camp Nou football stadium sits as the jewel in the crown on the FCB site which also houses the school; ice-skating rink; the FCB museum; shop; basketball, handball and roller hockey stadium (Palau Blaugrana); as well as training fields and a second smaller stadium (Miniestadi) for the second and third division football teams. There is also another FCB site - the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper - which is used for youth team training and matches, as well as by many of the other teams at the club.
As FCB members (socis), we were eligible to vote in the elections, and for weeks before the voting day we received lots of mail and emails to inform us of the day's events, including details on which gate to enter the stadium grounds, which door we had to go through to access the stadium, and the number of the desk where we had to vote.  We were very impressed at the level of organisation.

It was a beautiful Sunday as we made our way to the stadium by the metro trains.  The first thing to get out of the way was to vote, so we immediately went in to locate our voting desks.  There were over 100 desks set up in the access ring which usually gives game spectators access to their seats.  This ring was now a hive of activity, with thousands of people moving through trying to locate their voting desks.

The voting desks in the stadium's access ring

It was here we learned the simplicity of the club's voting system.  Dotted around the access way were voting booths.  In these booths were envelopes, and pieces of paper on which the names of the 4 presidential candidates had been printed.  All the voters had to do was select the paper with their choice of candidate, slip it into an envelope, seal it and make their way to their assigned voting desk.

Pick the candidate's name, stuff it in the envelope, take it to your voting desk - what could be easier than this?

At the desks, I.D. was checked against our names, and then we posted our voting envelopes through the slot into the ballot box. Official duty over, we then made our way to the queue to tour the museum.  We passed by loads of activities - bands playing, kids writing on a big graffiti wall, lots of skills areas where people could shoot goals both in football and basketball, and - the tour through the team bus.  We skipped that last one!

Band entertaining the masses - FCB shirts were popular

The kids drawing on the graffiti wall

Although we had been on the museum tour several times, there was a special reason for wanting to do it again on voting day.  Usually, the tour only allows access to the visiting team's dressing room, but today the Barcelona team's dressing room was open.  We had to see that!

More alterations have taken place in the museum, and it was pretty crowded, so we walked staright through with the intention of visiting again on a less busy day.  We headed for the dressing rooms.  There was quite a backlog of people gathered in the media interview area and it was very hot as we waited, but everyone was very good-natured.

Waiting in the media interview area to access the team dressing room

Finally, we had access to the hallowed ground!  First, we could see into the physio area where the team is massaged and treated for injuries.

The physio room

From here, we walked past the ablutions area into the dressing room.  The room is painted in the FCB colours ~ blaugrana ~ blue-red ~ with red walls and lockers and a blue ceiling. There were life-size cut-outs of all the players standing next to their lockers which was great to see, instead of just an empty room.

10 Messi, 21 Chygrynskiy, 2 Alves, 22 Abidal, 18 Milito, 15 Seydou Keita, 24 Yaya Touré, 13 Pinto, 20 Jeffrén.  No cut-out for 7 Villa yet, and also for 25 Jonathan Dos Santos from the second team who sometimes plays with the first team

8 Iniesta, 16 Busquets, 5 Puyol (Capt), 17 Pedro, 9 Ibrahimović, 11 Bojan, 19 Maxwell

1 Valdés, 14 Henry, 4 Márquez, 6 Xavi, 3 Piqué

As we stood looking into the dressing room, behind us was a set of stairs leading up to a very classy spa pool area which was, unfortunately, too dark and narrow to get a good photo, and we weren't allowed to go up the stairs.

The Barça dressing room is definitely more upmarket than the Visitors' room which is just plain pine lockers and one tiddly little spa pool.  Even new Barça player, David Villa, commented on the wonderful home rooms in his first interviews, having only used the visitors' amenities up until next season.

From the dressing room, the doors took us into the team gym which was equipped with standard gym equipment, and looked like any other gym, with a stretching area, running and weight machines and free weights.

The gymnasium

Standard gym equipment

From the changing rooms, we headed to the pitch.  Usually the tour allows visitors access to the pitch and a walk around the area in front of the teams' benches.  This time, the barriers were set around the whole pitch, so that we could walk the entire perimeter of the field.  That was pretty cool!

The main stand

We bailed out of the rest of the tour after walking the pitch, and headed home.

As for the election results, it was a record-breaking day with the most voters ever participating in the club elections.  Sandro Rosell won with a convincing 60+% of all votes.  From reports, his first move has been to try to get Fernando Torres from Liverpool to Camp Nou.  So far from what we've seen of Torres (albeit still recovering from injury) at the World Cup, we'd prefer that he stays at Anfield!

A panorama of the football pitch - the biggest seated stadium in Europe at just under 100,000 seats

As the sign on the right side seats says ~ Mes que un club:  More than a club.


Pandabonium said...

Wow, a voting system with a real paper trail. So much better than failure prone and hackable electronic voting.

nzm said...

Yes! And no confusing forms to fill out. Select the paper with your candidate's name and stuff it into the envelope. Of course, this does depend on one being able to read!