Qatar has signed up as a “platinum” sponsor of Bayern Munich, adding Germany’s richest and most successful soccer club to the range of football brands it backs following FIFA’s controversial choice of the oil rich Gulf state as host of the 2022 World Cup.
Doha’s state-owned Hamad International Airport agreed a “long-term” contract to sponsor Bayern Munich, Akbar Al Baker, chief executive officer of Qatar Airways, who also oversees the hub, said at a press briefing Wednesday. The value and duration of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Hamad becomes one of 10 second-tier partners backing FC Bayern, winner of a record 25 German national titles, alongside airline rival Deutsche Lufthansa AG and brands including Deutsche Post’s DHL and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Deutsche Telekom AG remains the club’s kit sponsor, with its “T” logo emblazoned on the front of players’ shirts.
Al Baker said Qatar Airways’s kit sponsorship deal with Barcelona runs until June, without disclosing whether it will be renewed. Club President Josep Bartomeu said in October that he’d not given up on extending the accord despite a breakdown of talks, Spanish newspapers reported. The arrangement has attracted some opposition, including demonstrations over women’s rights.
“Any entity can sponsor any club,” Al Baker said, when asked why Qatar’s airport rather than the better-known airline had sponsored FC Bayern. “If you have plenty of money, you can also sponsor if you want, with your name.”
Qatar also owns Paris Saint-Germain soccer club, the reigning French champions, outright, via Qatar Sports Investments, an offshoot of its sovereign wealth fund.
Bayern Munich held its winter training camp in Qatar for the sixth time this year, a move that’s led to criticism in Germany over the Gulf state’s human rights record and the death- toll among migrants who comprise more than 90 percent of the workforce.
Qatar, holder of the world’s third-largest natural-gas reserves, was awarded the next-but-one World Cup ahead of the US, Japan and Australia, despite the fact that it has never qualified for the finals, has little established soccer infrastructure and boasts summer temperatures that can reach 50 Celsius. The tournament has since been shifted to winter to ease conditions for players.For all the latest GCC news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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