The Estadio Johan Cruyff Qatar Airways?
Johan Cruyff's passing has swiftly led to a deafening chorus of calls on social media for Barça's ground to be renamed in his honour. Opened in 1957 (because, it's said, the old Les Corts could no longer meet the demand to see Ladislao Kubala) it ended up as the Camp Nou: a simple, unpretentious name; what the people knew it as. If memory serves, the idea of calling it after club founder Hans Gamper was mooted, but the manner of his death - suicide - scotched that plan. It just couldn't be married with the religious sensibilities of the time. The option of Francesc Miró Sans, the president under whom it was completed, was not overly popular, either, as in truth it wasn't his project; he was merely on hand to finish it.
So the stadium ended up as the Camp Nou. And the surrounding constructions that have followed it have all taken similar names, ones in line with how they became known among the fans. Palau de Gel, Miniestadi, Palau Blaugrana... Barcelona have only gone down the route of using an individual's name for the club museum, that of former chief Josep Lluis Núñez. But given what's transpired since then, there are those who think it wasn't such a good idea, and when he went to prison for tax fraud a change was even discussed. So there are really no compelling precedents urging the renaming of the Camp Nou as the 'Estadio Johan Cruyff'. There's no denying, however, that it would be a wonderful, fitting gesture.
A wonderful and fitting gesture, certainly; but I rather fear that, in this day and age, not feasible. As so many other clubs have taken to doing nowadays, Barcelona want to sell commercial naming rights to their stadium. So how would they fit the sponsor and Cruyff together? And would his family be up for that? Yes, Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez has been planning to add the name of whichever partner funds his stalled pharaonic project ("Ipic, Cepsa or whatever they want"; remember that?) alongside Santiago Bernabéu's, but that wouldn't be a viable proposition right now in a Ciudad Condal still raw from the loss of the great Dutchman. It's all a lovely idea but, unfortunately, an unworkable one too.
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