FC Barcelona has decided to hold off on making any deals with Qatar’s national carrier regarding shirt sponsorship, saying on its website that it wants to “present the members with an agreement that matches the high value of the assets that it offers.”
The board was supposed to announce whether it had decided to extend its agreement with Qatar Airways at a meeting today.
But talks between the Spanish club and the airline have reportedly stalled, and a new date is going to be set for club members to vote on a potential deal.
According to sports publication Marca, the agreement remains “parked on the tarmac” because Barcelona’s executives are asking for more than the €65 million that was previously discussed.
“(The club’s) president had shaken hands with Qatar Airways on 18th July, prior to the elections. Nothing was signed, but there was a firm verbal commitment in place to proceed.
Things began to take a turn for the worse during the campaign, however, and (Josep Maria) Bartomeu, embroiled in election turmoil, was forced to promise that the Barça shirt would be the most lucrative in the world – a boast that the deal which he brokered with Qatar Airways could not live up to, as Manchester United’s shirt is currently worth 71 million euros.”
Barca has had the airline’s name on its jerseys since 2013, as part of a controversial five-year contract with Qatar Sports Investment that began in 2011.
For the first two years of that agreement, the team sported Qatar Foundation’s logo on its shirts, its first corporate sponsor in its more than 100-year history.
The current contract is set to expire at the end of the 2015-2016 season.
According to the Bleacher Report, Nike needs six months to make the kits for the 2016-17 season, which means Barcelona will have to make a decision soon.
As negotiations continue, protesters planned to gather outside a meeting of club members in Spain today to urge them not to tie up with Qatar Airways again.
Cabin crew members of various airlines have urged others to turn out to express their disapproval of the national carrier’s policies toward female employees.
In a statement, International Transport Workers’ Federation policy coordinator Sarah Finke said:
“Qatar Airways personnel live under constant surveillance and the threat of instant dismissal for ‘offences’ such as having a tattoo, being pictured in a Facebook post at the beach, or holding a cigarette or drink.
They describe it as living in a climate of fear. They are barred from having a union to speak out for them. Qatar Airways staff have no voice. FC Barca members do. We ask them to search their souls and say no to this tainted sponsorship deal. Don’t sponsor fear in Qatar Airways.”