x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Barcelona FC sponsors Qatar Foundation accepted

Barcelona's €171 million (Dh858.4m) shirt sponsorship deal with the non-profit Qatar Foundation was approved by a wide margin at a general assembly.

Barcelona's €171 million (Dh858.4m) shirt sponsorship deal with the non-profit Qatar Foundation was approved by a wide margin at a general assembly.

The club signed the five-and-a-half year deal, touted as the largest shirt sponsorship deal in football history, in December, but the decision to collect money for the first time in their history to display a logo on players' jerseys did not go down well with everybody.

The Catalans has previously prided themselves on not having a sponsor on their shirts. The first time Barca sported a logo was from 2006 to 2011 when the charity Unicef adorned the red and blue shirt, with the Spanish club making a yearly donation.

However, with Barca in debt to the tune of €442m and having posted a yearly loss for the first time in seven years, officials made the decision to opt for a more lucrative deal.

Johan Cruyff, Barca's legendary former coach, has criticised the endorsement deal as "vulgar" and thousands of club fans signed a petition to demand that the agreement be revoked.

But club members unanimously accepted the shirt sponsorship deal at a general assembly late on Saturday night, with 697 votes in favour of keeping the deal, 76 against and 36 abstentions, the club said on their website.

The Qatar Foundation, founded in 1995, has set up projects focusing on education, scientific research and community development, mainly in the Middle East.

It is run by the wife of Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.