FC Barcelona and Rakuten, Inc. today announced the “FC Barcelona Japan Tour 2019 Presented by Rakuten,” which will see the Club visit Japan in July to compete against J.League J1 club Vissel Kobe and English Premier League club Chelsea FC in the “Rakuten Cup Supported by Scalp-D” tournament.

As part of the First Team’s pre-season preparation, FC Barcelona will travel to Japan, its first visit to the country since 2015, and the first tour to Asia since 2013. During the tour, FC Barcelona will play Chelsea FC on July 23 at Saitama Stadium 2002 in the Greater Tokyo Area, and Vissel Kobe on July 27 at Noevir Stadium Kobe, the home ground of Vissel Kobe. The matches will aim to pitch legendary Barça players against some of the Premier League’s top talent at Chelsea FC, as well as former Barça teammates Andrés Iniesta, David Villa and new signing Sergi Samper of Vissel Kobe.

The announcement of the Rakuten Cup was made at a press conference today in Tokyo with the presence of Mickey Mikitani, Rakuten Chairman and CEO, and Eric Abidal, Technical Secretary and former player of FC Barcelona. Abidal joined Barça in the 2007-08 season, in the following year he was a key part of the team that achieved the first treble in the club’s history, and featured in the season in which the club won an unforgettable six trophies in 2009.

“We are incredibly proud to bring these two legendary clubs to Japan,” said Mickey Mikitani, chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Inc. “The Rakuten Cup will give Vissel Kobe the chance to play against FC Barcelona, one of the leading clubs in European soccer, and fans in Japan the opportunity to see some of the world’s top soccer clubs in action. We hope the games will raise the technical level and global profile of Japanese soccer, and we are excited about inspiring the next generation of young talent.”

Éric Abidal of FC Barcelona said, “Our partnership with Rakuten is one based on shared values of optimism, empowerment, respect and teamwork. We say that we are ‘mes que un club,’ ‘more than a Club,’ and this is more than just a partnership. This summer Rakuten will help us to bring the FC Barcelona First Team to Japan and play two special games, against Chelsea FC and Vissel Kobe. We’ve had some fantastic battles against Chelsea in recent years and we’re looking forward to playing them again in Tokyo. As for Vissel, the match will be very special for us as there are three players who are now in Kobe, but who have been part of the Barça family: Sergi Samper, David Villa and Andres Iniesta. We’re excited to bring our unique style of play to our fanbase in Japan.”

FC Barcelona also launched the concept for the Japan Tour with a new film entitled ‘The Pass. The Art. The Barça Way’ as a way of expressing the Club’s mission of transforming the world through sporting excellence. Barça’s unique style of play places the Pass at the centre of everything on the field, with the players as the artists.

Information on the tour can be found on the official tour website. Both matches are planned to be distributed in Japan and around the world by Rakuten and other regional partners. Ticket presales via ticket lottery will begin on April 19, and information on the ticket sales will be published on the dedicated Rakuten Cup ticket page on Rakuten Ticket at the following site: http://r-t.jp/rakutencup2019

Rakuten and FC Barcelona’s partnership began in July 2017, when Rakuten became the Main Global Partner and first-ever Global Innovation & Entertainment Partner of FC Barcelona. The partnership is based on shared values of optimism, professionalism and commitment to empowering local communities. Rakuten and FC Barcelona are collaborating on a variety of initiatives leveraging Rakuten’s technologies and broad range of services to provide innovative solutions and services to fans, members and players of the club. Rakuten is also a partner of the Barça Academy in Japan at the Barça Academy World Cup, the international competition held this week in Barça’s facilities in which around 2,100 boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 14 took part. Barça Academy is the flagship FC Barcelona soccer school with branches in more than 20 countries around the world, four of which are in Japan (Shinagawa Oimachi, Fukuoka, KatsushikaandNara). Through the initiative, Rakuten and Barça hope to empower, inspire and fulfill the dreams of young soccer players.