For the first time in their history FC Barcelona have sold the rights to the front of their jerseys to the Qatar Foundation for a record $225 million over the next five years (release here). Until now Barca actually made an annual donation to UNICEF for the right to wear their logo. The team has said they will continue to support UNICEF with a less prominent logo placement.
The deal is the richest in European club football, significantly ahead of the $30 million a year that Liverpool and Manchester United both receive for their jersey rights. The amount is stunning given the tough economic climate but is a great success for a Barcelona club that was forced to take a $200 million loan this summer to continue operation.
This is a huge move by Qatar as they look to up their global soccer profile after successfully bidding for the 2022 World Cup. For those who don’t understand how countries like Russia (2018) and Qatar can top the bids of more technically prepared nations like the US and England this deal is a perfect example as the massive amounts of oil money and blurred lines between private and government organizations enable just this kind of multi-pronged support.
With nearly twelve years until the curtain goes up on World Cup 2022 it will be exciting to see what Qatar buys next. [Editor’s note: If anyone from Qatar is reading this, ‘Qatar Sweaters’ would be a great property to own, call us any time]