Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Barcelona's Shirt Sponsorship Deal. Is renaming their stadium the next step?

Barcelona fan's this week were left incensed by news that Barca, for the first time in the 111-year old history have decided to sign a shirt-sponsorship deal with Qatar Foundation.  The only exception to this to people who weren't upset was probably Barcelona fans who live, have lived or are connected with Qatar and those who don't realize Barcelona is the pride of the Catalan's.

While Barcelona have been noble enough to carry the Unicef sponsorship on their football strip for the last couple of years, they are certainly not breaking any boundaries in footballing terms by signing a shirt sponsorship deal.  Rather it is surprising why it has taken them this long as the economics of the game and the mounting levels of debt that football has seen in general has meant that sponsorship revenue is vital.

When I heard of the uproar this created and based from my experiences of seeing Catalan's being extremely proud to preserve their culture, it made me wonder, would there been as big a fuss created if Barcelona had signed a sponsorship deal with a bank, electronics company, FMCG brand, etc?  Is signing with Qatar the issue here?  Has nationalistic pride been hurt or compromised by signing with Qatar?

Qatar from their part certainly want to enjoy some level of visibility having recently won the rights to host the 2022 World Cup.  Qatar as such has not been big in footballing terms as far as visibility has gone whereas neighbours Dubai have been everywhere with Emirates sponsoring the likes of Arsenal, AC Milan, Paris Saint Germain and Hamburg.  Apart from this, Emirates is also an official sponsor of FIFA-events.  Etihad in the meantime are the shirt-sponsors of Manchester City (which is of course owned by Abu Dhabi).

For what it's worth, Barcelona have said they will handle the placement of the logo tastefully and will still maintain the Unicef logo on their shirts.  However, it makes you wonder, what sort of uproar we may have seen if Barcelona had also announced they'd renamed the famous Nou Camp to Camp Doha as well.  It may never happen but it doesn't hurt to let your mind wander at times, does it?  :)