For FC Barcelona’s global fanbase, there’s nothing more exciting than walking through the hallowed grounds of Camp Nou stadium to catch a home game. To be in the stands, overlooking the pitch where legends like Messi, Ronaldinho, Xavi and Iniesta made their mark on soccer history, is an experience prized by every supporter of the garnet and blue.
But it isn’t only what’s inside the stadium that makes it special.
To celebrate the opening of the 2020-2021 season and recognize the club’s world-class fans, Rakuten, together with FC Barcelona, has unveiled a larger-than-life mosaic. At 47.7m x 9.6m, the mosaic is bigger than 32 15-passenger vans stacked four vans high and eight deep and features 46,000 crowdsourced fan photos arranged into the image of five first team players — Lionel Messi, Gerard Piqué, Frenkie de Jong, Marc-André ter Stegen and Antoine Griezmann — on the main facade of Camp Nou.
Building The Big Picture
Back in July, Rakuten and FC Barcelona launched the “The Big Picture” with a call for submissions from fans and a dedicated website. The photos they contributed were then used to create the one-of-a-kind mosaic that now sits outside the stadium gates at Camp Nou. A call was put out for thousands of photos, and for the fans that responded, it was an opportunity to become part of Camp Nou history — one that they can easily share with friends, family and fellow fans.
“We are committed to delivering world-class fan experiences powered by cutting-edge innovation,” explained Rahul Kadavakolu, director of Global Branding at Rakuten. “This is a way to bring Barca’s global fanbase to the club’s iconic home ground during a time when many fans are unable to attend professional sporting events in person. By combining technology and a passion for sports we can transcend borders and barriers in truly amazing ways.”
Fans can find the mosaic online by visiting Rakuten’s The Big Picture website. Participants can pinpoint their contribution to the mosaic by following the link sent to each participant featured in the mosaic and viewing the personalized video that automatically zooms into the specific area where their photo is located.
Camp Nou, including the Museum, Barça Store and Barcelona Supporter Services Office, as well as the outdoor area around the forecourt, are open to the general public, even though games are being played behind closed doors due to COVID-19 countermeasures. For a limited period, participants may use their smartphone to scan a special QR code located at the stadium, log in with their Rakuten ID, then use AR technology to find their photo by scanning their device over the facade.
For the fans around the world who can’t pack stadiums this season
Responding quickly to the global outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this year, Spain’s top professional soccer league La Liga suspended play in March. So did the UEFA Champions League, the annual tournament in which the kings of Europe are crowned. Camp Nou, so synonymous with the roar of the crowd, is awaiting the return of the fans.
Although play resumed in August, it hasn’t been quite the same without supporters in seats. And yet, fans all over the world continue to cheer their team on with unmatched passion, watching online and on TV. FC Barcelona and Rakuten created the Big Picture in order to reunite the stadium with its fans.
Sports: Providing empowerment for a pandemic-stricken world
The fans from around the world who contributed to the Big Picture project all share a similar sentiment — despite the limitations around watching soccer in-person, they want to do what they can to support their beloved Barca. The team will be buoyed by their remarkable fans, and the mosaic adorning Camp Nou’s facade is a powerful reminder of what makes FC Barcelona more than a club.