Barcelona has claimed it is the victim after the club’s two Australian youth academies were shut down amid the coronavirus crisis – leaving furious parents $250,000 out of pocket.
The Spanish club’s private academies in Brisbane and Sydney were closed this month after BCN Sports – the Canadian company licenced to run the operation Down Under – went bankrupt.
Families estimate they have spent $251,790 on fees and travel expenses, which included a trip to the ‘Barça Academy World Cup’ in April.
The tournament itself was cancelled due to the pandemic, with one parent telling a Barcelona-based radio station the lack of a refund was ‘disgusting’ and an embarrassment to the sporting powerhouse’s image.
The global director of the Barça Academy project Carles Martín said his priority was on ensuring families got their money back.
Pictured: Barcelona star forward Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela Roccuzzo. Australian families have voiced their outrage after they were left $250,000 out of pocket when the Spanish club’s two academies Down Under went bankrupt
Pictured: The main FC Barcelona training complex in the Spanish city. The global director of the Barça Academy project said he was focused on getting Australian families their money back
‘As you can see, FC Barcelona is just another victim of this situation, but what concerns us most right now is the families getting their money back and the damage that this has caused to our project’s image in Australia,’ he told The Sydney Morning Herald.
‘In this case, we cannot say how things have gone due to the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus nor say how our partner [BCN] has acted in recent days, but we can rest assured that the values set out by the club and the Barça Academy have had a marked effect on many children and many families in the country.’
‘We want to make it clear to the Australian families that if necessary, legal action will be taken to ensure that they get their money back.’
Mr Martín added the academies had had a positive impact on Australian soccer, with players going to play for A-League clubs like Sydney FC and the Brisbane Roar.
The websites for both the Australian academies – which trained an estimated 400 children – are no longer accessible and their social media accounts no longer exist.
One of the Parents, Dax Anderson, said the company is yet to officially inform families about the closures of the two training schools although information they have received indicates it has shutdown.
‘I paid more than two thousand euros in December, and more than six thousand in January for the trip of my two children, my daughter, my wife and mine,’ he told a Barcelona radio station .
‘We are extremely upset by the lack of information from BCN Sports. And since it is an FC Barcelona academy, we are also very disappointed with the club.
‘No one has bothered to contact us to help us. Is this how a club that has values such as respect, teamwork, fair play, etc. acts? A club with billions of dollars. It’s disgusting and an embarrassment to their image.’
The Wahroonga and Bunya-based academies offered children soccer training modelled on the renowned Spanish professional football club.
Last week, FC Barcelona released a statement on their website in regards to the closure of the academies based in Canada.
‘Futbol Club Barcelona is sorry to announce that the organizing partner of the five Barça Academies in Canada, BCN Sports Service Canada, has announced its decision to definitively close the five Barça Academy following the chain of events caused by the spread of coronavirus around the world,’ the statement read.
The Sydney academy was held on Abbotsleigh sports grounds in Wahroonga (pictured)
‘Futbol Club Barcelona thanks all of the boys and girls who have taken part in these Barça Academies over the years for enjoying themselves so much and learning to play football in accordance with the philosophy and understanding of sport that we share at the club.
Between 2018 and 2019, the club generated a record revenue of $1.48 billion AUD, however, last month it announced wage cuts may be implemented as the association battles through the financial effects of COVID-19.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted BCN Sports for comment.