Starting next year, Qatar Airways will replace Qatar Foundation as Football Club Barcelona’s main global sponsor, Qatar Sports Investments has announced.
That means the national carrier’s logo will appear on players’ jerseys starting in the 2013-2014 season - a decision made by QSI, FC Barcelona said.
Qatar Foundation has been designated the official “human development” partner, the companies said in a statement issued to media tonight.
Barca’s tie-up with QSI - a $230 million five-year agreement that is arguably the largest sponsorship deal in football history - was the first time the team’s jerseys sported paid advertising in 112 years.
Since the team announced the deal two years ago, it met with a wave of disapproval from fans, some saying the team had “sold out” and others expressing concerns about tying the team to Qatar, a conservative and autocratic Muslim country.
Barca’s financial vice-president Javier Faus, who has defended the tie-up as a way to keep the team solvent, welcomed the new partnership with Qatar Airways, citing the current economic strain in Spain as a reason to “welcome any foreign company that wants to invest in our country.”
Incidentally, competing football club Real Madrid announced in July that it will sport the Emirates Airline logo on their jerseys starting next year.
According to a QSI spokesman, no official jersey photos have been released, but images of what the new shirts may look like have been circulating the internet.
Regarding QF’s new role, a statement on its website said:
The first two years of our partnership have surpassed our expectations and we are now looking to deepen and strengthen our relationship with FCB and its fans around the world in our continued role as a proud partner of the club.
Credit: Graphic courtesy of El Mundo Deportivo