A fortnight or so ago, debt-saddled (about €430 million at the last count) giants Barcelona announced that news that, for the first time in their grand 111-year history, the club had been forced to bow to the pervading market forces and sign a shirt sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation – a move that would see the Arab organisation’s logo replace that of children’s charity UNICEF atop the famous blaugrana.
For the past five years Barca had allowed UNICEF‘s name to be emblazoned across the front of their jersey pro gratis, though with the Camp Nou groaning under it’s monolithic outgoings, Barca were faced with little choice but to flog a prominent, idiosyncratic part of their soul to the highest Emirate bidder.
The deal was not only ground-breaking for the aforementioned reason, but for also being the biggest shirt sponsorship package in footballing history – estimated to be worth somewhere in the region of €150 million to the Catalan outfit.
Impressive, yes – undoubtedly. However, somewhere in the middle of the monetary maelstrom, a little piece of football’s long lineage undeniably died.
Anyway, down to brass tacks. Reports emanating from Israel (namely the Ma’ariv newspaper) are claiming that pressure is being put on Barca to renege on their deal with the supposedly ‘charitable’ Qatari conglomerate as direct links between them and Islamic (Palestinian) terrorist group Hamas have been allegedly unearthed.
Ma’ariv are carrying reports that a phalanx of Israeli diplomats have been deployed to fly out to Catalonia with the express intent of trying to persuade Barca into backing out of the five-year deal they shook hands on just two weeks ago.
Spanish paper El Mundo have also seen fit to voice their half-penny’s worth, speculating that the Qatar Foundation may have donated considerable sums of money to Egyptian scholar Yusuf al Qaradawi – a hard-line Muslim cleric who, aside from being a trustee of Oxford University, is also banned from entering the UK and has vocally advocated religious segregation, bigotry, ‘light’ domestic violence, female circumcision and flagrant anti-Semitism as well as once celebrating Adolf Hitler for delivering ‘Allah’s divine punishment’ to Jews during the course of WWII.
Nice chap, bit of a chip on his shoulder.
The whole debacle sounds like a crockpot full of incendiary horse-sh*t (there’s an image for you) being slowly stirred to me but, as per usual, I could be wrong.