News media in Israel is reporting that FC Barcelona plans to end its controversial business partnership with the government of Qatar over concerns about terrorist connections. The La Liga giants initially signed the $200 million sponsorship deal with Qatar in December of 2010.
Barça's partnership with the Qataris has ruffled the feathers of club purists from the outset. The front of the team’s iconic Blaugrana strip, some of the most coveted advertising space in the world of sports, was for years free of the corporate sponsorship logos adorning most club jerseys. Instead, the Catalan club donated the space to UNICEF. However as a condition of the Qatari deal for the past few seasons, Barça's jerseys have born the name of the Qatari Foundation, an entity founded by Qatari government officials, and Qatar Airways.
Continuing revelations about the slave-like working conditions for migrant laborers in Qatar, many of whom are building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup, have made it increasingly untenable for a team like Barcelona, that prides itself on being “more than a club,” to reconcile its relationship with a government seen as corrupt by many around the world.
More recently, Qatar has been making headlines for its alleged financial support of Hamas, an armed Islamist movement that’s been branded as a terrorist organization by the United States.
According to the reports, Barcelona does not plan to renew the sponsorship deal when it expires in early 2016.