In a lucrative €35.4 million per year deal, club president Sandro Rosell said the airline will replace charity Qatar Foundation as its shirt sponsor from 1st July 2013.
The deal has angered many die-hard Barcelona fans who believe it is betraying on a tradition of having no corporate sponsors on their shirts, a tradition that has been in place since the club was founded in 1889.
Trying to ease the worries of certain sections of the Catalan club’s supporters, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell stated that:
‘This deal is good for our club, good for our city and good for our country.’
‘We are delighted to be working with Qatar Airways. We share lots of values, and one of them is the search for excellence. We have lots of supporters and Qatar have lots of customers.’
What is apparently upsetting the Barcelona fans is the bait and switch that the Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) used.
In 2010, QSI signed a €165.5 million five-year deal with Barcelona for Qatar Foundation to appear on the back of the jersey for Barcelona in 2010. Included in that agreement, and not noticed by many fans, was that QSI had an option of changing the logo in future.
Barcelona’s economic vice-president Javier Faus tried to spin the news by stating that the club is just maintaining the continuity of the deal, as Qatar Airways are only replacing the Qatar Foundation on the shirt.