FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Management at FC Barcelona, the world's most popular soccer team, will gradually end their business partnership with the Qatari government in light of criticism over Doha's role in financing terrorist organizations, Channel 2 is reporting on Friday.
According to the Israeli television station, Barcelona, whose soccer uniforms bear the insignia of the research non-profit organization Qatar Foundation, an entity that was founded by top government officials in Doha, will opt not to renew its contract with the Gulf emirate once it expires in a little over a year.
In December 2010, Barcelona signed a major sponsorship deal with Qatar Foundation worth 170 million euros. Management at the La Liga club told Channel 2 that the decision to opt for a sponsorship deal – which was without precedent since the club had a longstanding tradition not to place any corporate logo on its uniforms – was necessary in light of a major debt that had saddled the team.
Since 2013, the club's uniform has borne the logo of Qatar Airways.
Qatar has been in the news in Israel over its role in extending political and financial support to the Gaza-based Islamist movement Hamas, the fundamentalist outfit which recently waged a 50-day long campaign of rocket fire on Israeli towns and cities.
According to Channel 2, Barcelona officials defended their original deal with Qatar, saying that at the time of its consummation, the emirate was not considered as extreme as it is today.