FC Barcelona to Feature Qatar Foundation on Shirts

Hi all,
In 2006, FC Barcelona kicked off a global partnership with UNICEF in order to help children affected by HIV/AIDS in the developing world. For the first time in the club 107 year history, the 06-07 Barca shirt unveiled the UNICEF logo on the front. In addition, Barca agreed to donate €1.5 million per year to UNICEF over the next 5 years to support UNICEF programmes for children.

A “never been done before” partnership which outlines that FC Barcelona is indeed Mes que un club. Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director, said back then that “This partnership joining UNICEF and the Barcelona Futbol Club will help push open a door of hope to thousands of children. Barcelona shows us that sports can be a powerful, positive force for children.”

Barca President Mr Joan Laporta echoed his UNICEF counterpart by saying “At FC Barcelona, we are aware of the global dimension of soccer. The increasing number of FC Barcelona supporters and fans around the world in the last few years has been spectacular. The club has an obligation to respond to this enormous positive wave. The best way to do so is by using soccer as a tool to bring hope to millions of vulnerable children in need around the world”.

During the first year of the agreement children affected by AIDS in Swaziland will benefit from this partnership. Swaziland is working hard to stop AIDS, but faces enormous obstacles. The country is estimated to have the highest estimated adult HIV prevalence rate in the world. In 2004, 43% of women seen at antenatal clinics tested positive for HIV. But just under 12 per cent of HIV positive pregnant women are receiving the drugs necessary to protect their newborns from contracting the virus. [Source: Unicef]

You did the math. In 2011, the UNICEF partnership might come to an end. Barcelona is considering sharing UNICEF shirt space with Qatar Foundation. A deal up to €150 million with Qatar NGO was agreed upon, which will make the Barca shirt the most expensive shirt deal in modern football.

Economic factors lead the club to this decision. Indeed, the club has also been hit by economic merky waters as it is coming off a season when lost €77 million. Barcelona will receive €30 million per season from 2011-12 from the nonprofit organization and both logo should be featured on the Barca shirt.

The Catalan stressed that the agreement with Qatar Foundation does not put an end to the UNICEF partnership, although the 5 year deal will expire end of 2011. Barcelona financial vice president Javier Faus said “the team would renew its deal with UNICEF, for which it has contributed €1.5 million annually for humanitarian projects”.

From UNICEF to Qatar Foundation, FC Barcelona takes a significant step in terms of sponsorship revenue. The club’s philanthropic history is one thing, but economic woes are, at the end of the day, showing the way to go.

Karl Lusbec


14 thoughts on “FC Barcelona to Feature Qatar Foundation on Shirts

  1. Hi FABO,
    Thanks for sharing. I am an avid reader of football-marketing.com and this article caught my attention. In my opinion, there are many aspects to consider:
    First of all, the fact that a religious entity is willing to tap into football sponsorship is not very common. Apart from Glasgow Rangers and Celtic who have historical strong religious ties, I am not aware of a religious sponsor on football shirt. So a very new trend.

    Secondly, the club is (or must) have a strong scrutiny on their sponsor ethic background and evaluate whether it matches with the club values etc. In that case, due to the sex abuse the Bishop is going through, Cercle Brugge have to be cautious not to link a negative message with the club.

    Now, it’s also a bunch of hypocrisy. They miss an opportunity of 50.000€ which is peanuts for a elite belgium league club. Should the sponsorship fee amounted to €50 million, the story would have been different.

    My take is the club played the negative sponsor image card to decline a “not good enough” deal, but I might be wrong!

    What do you think?


  2. Karl,

    There are several points made in this article that I cannot fathom. First, Cercle Brugge Director, Marc Tanghe, professed that “given all the scandals in the Catholic Church, we thought it too sensitive.” “Let who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    Second, he goes on to add that “we feared becoming a target of ridicule.” Jesus Christ, an innocent man, was spat on, ridiculed, insulted, whipped, falsely accused, and cruxified on a cross for the salvation of each one of us.

    Furthermore, “we also thought that it is not appropriate for us as a football club to be associated with a particular way of looking at life.” If I sport a Man City jersey, would that make me a poligamist because the Club owner, Sheik Mansour, is married to two wives.

    Marc Tanghe communicated that, “Cercle also has supporters who belong to other religions. For a least a section of our our players, supporters and sponsors, it would have been very difficult to identify with the religious message that woud have featured on our shirt.” As a savvy business man, Marc Tanghe should have realized that taking this course actually offends “three quarters of the Belgium population,” which identify themselves as Catholics.

    Rules of the KBVB state that, “in no way may shirt advertising be of political or religious nature.” Is there a difference between a Catholic charity organization and a Catholic newspaper? Both adhere to the same religious practices and doctrines. Morever, the President of Caritas International is a priest.

    I find mister Tanghe’s claims quite regretable. All the best!



  3. Hi FABO,
    Good analysis. I have only looked at the business/sponsorship part, but your analysis is spot on.

    To me, M. Tanghe’s comments are essentially to decline a sponsorship deal his club did not want to be part of, and obviously, they can offend a large christian community.
    If that same organisation had put €50 million on the table, Cercle Brugge approach would have been veeery different.
    Like in daily life, addressing concerns about a specific religion is like walking on burning coal. The backslash will be hard.

    I also believe it’s a lack of communication skills. Speaking about the church ongoing scandals + adding a comment as being the target of ridicule etc, is an open door for (as you mention) 3/4 of the Belgium population to get angry and offended.

    All the best to you!


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