This is a classic case of bait and switch by Barcelona and Qatar Sports Investments. When Barcelona announced last year that it had would have a sponsors name on its shirt for the first time after signing a five years, €150 million deal with QSI, fans bought into it because the sponsors name would be the Qatar Foundation.
But a deal included a clause that allowed QSI to change the name of the shirt sponsor in the third season of the agreement.
So now instead of having their name seen by millions of fans throughout the world, the Qatar Foundation has now been relegated to becoming the club’s official human development partner. And Qatar’s flagship airline become the new main shirt sponsor which I am pretty sure was the plan all along.
Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, said:
“We are delighted to form this alliance with FC Barcelona, the biggest football club in the world. Qatar Airways…will work with FC Barcelona on activities of benefit both to fans and passengers, offering tangible rewards to both organisations.”
A Qatar Foundation spokesperson added:
“When we started this fantastic journey with FC Barcelona, our objective was to work closely with the club, the team and the supporters to promote awareness of Qatar Foundation on an international scale.
“This has been a huge success. In fact, the first two years of the collaboration have surpassed our expectations and we are looking to deepen and strengthen our relationship with FC Barcelona and its supporters around the world in our continued role as a proud partner of the club.”
Sandro Rosell, president of FC Barcelona, said Qatar Airways is,
“an ambitious brand with global aspirations, always committed to achieving the utmost excellence in its field. These are objectives with which FC Barcelona fully identifies.”
“After sharing two fantastic years with Qatar Foundation, we are delighted to be continuing our relationship by welcoming them as our official Human Development Partner.”
For many years Barcelona were looked upon as being special. As the commercial side of football grew, Barcelona stood alone. No sponsor’s name emblazoned on their famous shirt. Just simply the club’s badge. Classy
Even when Barcelona did take the step of putting a sponsor’s name on its shirt, instead of selling the space to the highest bidder, Barcelona actually paid UNICEF to display the company’s logo on its shirt. Another classy move.
Barcelona seemed to be continuing that trend when they announced the shirt sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation. A classy move. Not selling the space to the highest bidder.
So the news that Barcelona has agreed to this bait and switch with the Qatar Sports Investments is a sad day for Barcelona fans everywhere. The lack of commercial sponsorship that made Barcelona separate is gone. Now they are just like every other club.