FC Barcelona has released the design of its new football strip – and for the first time in five years, it doesn’t look like the word “Qatar” will be on it.
The team has been in negotiations with Qatar Airways about renewing a sponsorship deal. Their first agreement in 2011 entailed putting a paid sponsor’s logo on Barca’s shirts for the first time ever.
But the talks have stalled, and for now, the new uniform for the 2016/17 season does not include the airline’s name.
A Qatar Airways spokesperson declined to comment on the new uniform, but confirmed its current five-year agreement with Barca is due to expire at the end of June.
The club had been due to play a friendly match in Qatar, as part of its sponsorship deal. However, it has called off the game three times, most recently this month when it cited a clash with “other important sporting events.”
The Spanish club officially announced its new kit on its website and through social media earlier today, coinciding with the launch of sales through Nike.com/fcb, FCBotigues and via official distributors, it said.
Publicizing the launch of its new kit are Lionel Messi, Neymar, Gerard Piqué, Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 30, 2016
Though the updated jersey has no sponsor’s name, it features the Nike swoosh. That company recently renewed its deal with Barcelona until 2026.
The shirts also feature a return to vertical red and blue stripes, and the new look was welcomed by many commenters online.
Loving this new barca kit! So simple, but so good! pic.twitter.com/zConc3QzoF
— Nathan Byrne (@NaathanByrne) May 30, 2016
Qatar Airways and Barca have been locked in negotiations for months about renewing their contract.
The club’s board was due to announce whether it had decided to extend the contract last October. But no announcement was made as talks continued.
Qatar Airways has had its name on the team’s jerseys since 2013, as part of a deal with Qatar Sports Investment that began in 2011.
For the first two years of that agreement, the team sported Qatar Foundation’s logo on its shirts, its first corporate sponsor in its more than 100-year history.
The sponsorship of the team was controversial among some of the club’s fans and members, who organized protests about the issue.