BBC Sport reports that Barcelona has signed a new sponsorship deal for their shirts with the Qatar Foundation just days after Qatar was chosen as the host for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The new deal is worth £125 million over five years, or a cool £25 million per season till 2016. The deal is not that much larger than the deals in place for other top clubs such as Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Real Madrid who all bring between £20 to £23 million each year for their shirt sponsorship deals.
However, the timing of this deal seems like there was something in the works between Qatar, Barcelona, and Barca’s coach Pep Guardiola. Pep was one of the ambassadors chosen by the 2022 Qatar World Cup bid and some are saying that there is some shenanigans in the whole process. In previous posts here and here on the IJSF blog by James Reade he discussed the potential dirty dealings of FIFA, including officials taking bribes to vote certain ways, and the fact that two voting members for the World Cup bids were removed because of this. This new shirt deal for Barcelona seems to be adding more fuel to the fire that there are backroom deals going on which have helped with the selection of Russia and Qatar as World Cup hosts. The FIFA ethics committee did investigate the potential of some sort of deal for vote swapping between the Spain-Portugal bid and Qatar bid, but found nothing.
However, with such a big sponsorship deal landing in Barcelona’s lap, a team which has never sold their shirt sponsorship rights before, I’m sure there are many like myself who are thinking that there was some kind of deal in place. It may not have helped the Spain-Portugal bid (thought it could be one reason why the England bid was eliminated in the first round of voting), but it has helped a Barcelona team which is feeling stronger financial difficulties in recent years.
On a small side note, UEFA head Platini has already called for the World Cup in 2022 to be played in the winter because of the extreme heat and danger to players in the summer. I’m sure that will go down well with ALL of the club teams across the world who will have to ship off their best players for a month-long tournament, plus several weeks of training camp in the middle of the season.