FC Barcelona has gotten a lot of flak for the new Qatar Foundation logos its players are sporting on their jerseys.
So much, in fact, that club members will get to vote Sept. 24 on whether to continue the shirt-sponsorship deal.
The outcome of the vote could have numerous implications for Barca, club president Sandro Rossell said in an interview with the newspaper La Vanguardia.
First and foremost, he said, “without the patronage of the Qatar Foundation, the club would be smaller.”
Asked what the club would do if the vote goes against his wishes, Rossell said:
Yes it’s a risk, but we would seek alternatives. We’d have to rethink the size of the club, but if that’s what the members want then so be it. Barca would still be sustainable but in a different way.
We couldn’t continue getting everything we want: best squad in the world, best boss in the world, biggest sporting institution in the world, the club spending most on youth development. Our rivals would then have more of an advantage. We would be smaller.
We’ve always thought we’ve, and will have, the Barca our members want and deserve. Today our biggest challenges are to maintain our sporting excellence and translate that into the area of management. The first part is being fulfilled and we’re on the right road with the second.
At a club of Barcelona’s size, you always find a group of people against something, or who at least would like to discuss things, whether it’s this business with Qatar, the signing of Cesc or if we sell popcorn at the bar.
Qatar is what it is. We know what it is. A Middle Eastern country, one that claims to want to open up to the western world. We can help them on the road to a more democratic future; the Qatar Foundation is an organisation that spends more money than any other on, for example, things like stem cell research to cure disease,” he said.
Asked was there another brand worth more than Barcelona at the moment, he said, “No. Today we hold the record for sports sponsorship and there’s nobody else worth more,” he added.
Barca and QF announced the sponsorship deal a week after Qatar was awarded the World Cup bid at the end of 2010. It was the first time in the club’s 111-year history to agree on a shirt sponsorship, for a record $218 million deal.
–Doha Stadium Plus contributed to this report.