Barcelona FC drops Qatar Airways as shirt sponsor

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten takes Qatari flag-carrier’s place on Spanish side’s shirts
Barcelona FC drops Qatar Airways as shirt sponsor
CEO of Japanese company Rakuten Hiroshi Mikitani (R) exchanges documents with Barcelonas president Josep Maria Bartomeu after signing an agreement between FC Barcelona and its new sponsor Rakuten Inc., at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. Japanese online retailer Rakuten will be Barcelonas main sponsor for the next four years, the Spanish giants said. Rakuten will replace Qatar Airways which has been Barcelonas shirt sponsor since 2013. (Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)
By Staff writer
Thu 17 Nov 2016 10:45 AM

The Qatar Airways brand will not appear on the shirts of one of the world’s most successful football teams from the end of this season.

Barcelona FC, the current Spanish champions, has signed a sponsorship deal with Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten, in a deal worth $58 million a year.

"This agreement puts us at the forefront of sports club sponsorships, which has always been an objective for the current board of directors," said the Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The deal means that Barcelona’s previous deal with the Qatari flag-carrier, which began in 2013 and was worth an estimated $30 million a year, will cease at the close of the 2016-2017 season.

Reports in Spain had suggested that Qatar Airways, Amazon and China’s Huawei had all been in the running for the new shirt sponsorship deal.

Rival Emirates is the shirt sponsor for several European football sides, including England’s Arsenal, Italy’s AC Milan, France’s Paris St-Germain and Portugal’s Benfica. 

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