Media Room

July 13, 2017
  • Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten launches FC Barcelona Partnership with visit to Tokyo by Messi, Neymar Jr., Piqué and Turan

- Partnership based in shared values of optimism and empowerment commenced Jul. 1 -

Tokyo, July 13, 2017 – Rakuten became the Main Global Partner and the first-ever Official Innovation & Entertainment Partner of FC Barcelona, one of the most iconic and beloved football clubs in the world, on July 1.

Rakuten, which was founded in 1997 as the world’s first successful merchant-focused e-commerce marketplace, now encompasses over 70 businesses spanning e-commerce, digital content, communications and fintech that bring the joy of discovery to more than 1 billion members across the world. By linking these diverse services through a common membership and loyalty program, we are creating a unique Rakuten Ecosystem for members. Rakuten's partnership with FC Barcelona will enable us to enhance global awareness of this ecosystem and of the global Rakuten brand.

The Rakuten-FC Barcelona partnership, which is planned for four years with an option for one-year extension, is based in shared values of optimism and commitment to empowering local communities.

Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani, founder and CEO of Rakuten, Inc., said, “FC Barcelona’s motto of being ‘more than a club’ resonates with Rakuten’s commitment to being ‘more than a company’ – by empowering entrepreneurs and innovation, by supporting youth to become leaders of the future, and by contributing to local communities around the world.”

A group of FC Barcelona’s star players, including Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr., Gerard Piqué and Arda Turan, along with Vice President responsible for Marketing and Communication, Manel Arroyo, visited Rakuten’s headquarters in Tokyo and locations around the city to celebrate the launch of the partnership.

FC Barcelona striker Lionel Messi said, “It has been a pleasure to get to know firsthand the work Rakuten is doing in Japan and to see the passion with which they work. Their commitment to teamwork is similar to the approach we take on the pitch – it is something that both parties in this new partnership share.” 

FC Barcelona forward Neymar Jr. said, “One of the most important things in football, as in life, is optimism. Before I go out on the pitch I know what I need to do, and I know I can do it. It’s wonderful to have a sponsor who shares our belief in the future.”

Centre-back Gerard Piqué said, “The team at Rakuten are visionaries and innovators – but they are also deeply passionate about supporting the communities around them. They are a great fit for FC Barcelona, a club that engages with so many communities, from its members and supporters’ clubs to fans all over the world. We look forward to a wonderful partnership.”

Midfielder Arda Turan said, “It is wonderful to be here and to be part of a team that leads the world of football and a team that is so admired here in Japan and around the world.”

FC Barcelona Vice President responsible for Marketing and Communication, Manel Arroyo said, “Having Rakuten as FC Barcelona’s Main Global Partner and Official Innovation & Entertainment Partner is an absolute pleasure and we are sure that it will be a successful collaboration for both entities. The experience, innovative vision, and commitment to social development Rakuten has will help the Club continue to grow and maintain its position as a global reference in a sporting and institutional sense. The shared philosophy, values and objectives are, without a doubt, another guarantee of the success which will come out of this agreement.”

The partnership launches with a wave of consumer campaigns and corporate activities planned to excite FC Barcelona fans around the world. Details below:

-   Rakuten and FC Barcelona will work together to power the online "Barça Fan" community using the global Rakuten ID platform. Once completed, the system will allow new members of the Barça community to sign up simply by entering their Rakuten ID.

-   Global mobile messaging service Viber, also the FC Barcelona Official Communication Channel, will launch exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage of the club’s activities on and off the field on their official Public Account, as well as a series of free sticker packs featuring all the favorite players throughout the partnership.

-   Viber will also launch a competition to offer a VIP travel package to Barcelona to see FC Barcelona legends in action at Camp Nou.

-   Rakuten Ichiba, Japan’s largest online shopping mall, has opened an exclusive FC Barcelona zone that showcases all the best of FCB goods on the site.

-   Rakuten Card, one of the top three credit cards in Japan, will launch two exclusive FC Barcelona-branded credit cards, featuring the FC Barcelona logo and some of the club's best-known players, in autumn.

-   Rakuten will host kickoff events around the world in 12 major locations to celebrate the launch of the partnership with key clients, partners and employees and set the stage for activities to come.

-   As the FC Barcelona team travels to the United States in late July for a special tour, Rakuten will also create tailored events and promotions to generate further excitement about this new partnership.

Updates on initiatives will be shared in weeks to come, as Rakuten works with FC Barcelona to delight football fans and Rakuten members around the world.