The shirt sponsorship bait and switch pulled by the Qatar Sports Investment and FC Barcelona is finally complete as Qatar Airways becomes the new shirt sponsor of the club that used to famously shun corporate shirt sponsors to benefit charitable organizations.
When Barcelona signed the richest shirt sponsorship deal of all-time (five years, €150 million) with the non-profit Qatar Foundation last year, the was considerable outrage that the UNICEF logo, which the club has paid to wear for many years, would be relegated to the back of the shirt. This was compounded by concern over Qatar's human rights record and the mystery as to why a foundation that aims to improve education, science and community development within Qatar would sponsor a Spanish club. But the sponsor on the shirt would still have the word "foundation" in it, so surely it must be something of a good cause, it was reasoned.
Well, now the "Qatar" is being kept, but the "Foundation" is being replaced with "Airways" as it seems weening Barcelona fans off the concept of shirt sponsorship do-goodery was the plan all along.
"Qatar Foundation has been the beneficiary of the contract (signed with QSI) for the last two years and starting from July 1 it is going to become Qatar Airways," Barca vice president Javier Faus told the club's television channel.
"QSI has given the rights of our main sponsorship to Qatar Airways. We are happy to accept the change. They are a global company and we share many of the values they have.
"Beyond that, they have expressed their intentions to increase their investment in Catalunya."
But how can QSI give away these rights? Barcelona's official website explains that it was a part of the deal from the start:
The contract signed with QSI permits the possibility of including a new logo on the shirt from the third season of the agreement, as we reported to the Assembly of Representatives in September 2011.
And that's how you do that.