UAE's Etisalat extends Barcelona deal for four years

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Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (AFP/Getty Images).

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (AFP/Getty Images).

Etisalat, the UAE's largest telecommunications operator, has extended its sponsorship deal with Spanish football club FC Barcelona for a further four years.

The new agreement makes Etisalat Barca’s main sponsor in countries where the telco operates - including the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, Niger, Gabon and the Central African Republic - until June 30, 2017.

The telco is the second major Gulf-based sponsor of the team, with Qatar Sports Investments underpinning the club’s commercial revenue and appearing on the shirts.

Qatar’s national airline, Qatar Airways, will have its logo appear on the club’s shirts from next season. It will be the first time the 114-year old side's kit has carried a commercial sponsor.

Barca is the second most lucrative football club in the world, behind Real Madrid, according to the Deloitte Football Money League ranking published in January.

Specific details of the deal have not been released but it is believed to be worth millions of dollars.

The last deal, also for four years and signed in 2009, was worth €12m (US$15.7m). It also included Barca playing at least one game in a country where Etisalat operates and gave the telco the rights to co-brand merchandise, use content from the club’s website and broadcast exclusive mobile TV content.

Barca president Sandro Rosell said the new agreement would "allow FC Barcelona to strengthen its connection with our fans in these areas and be closer to them".

"Without doubt, it will help us transmit our values and also grow socially and economically," he added.

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