President Sandro Rosell, vice-president Javier Faus and Akbar Al-Baker, executive director of Qatar Airways / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

The Auditorium 1899 was the venue on Tuesday for the official presentation of the partnership between FC Barcelona and Qatar Airways, which since July 1 has been the club’s official global partner. The agreement will be in force until June 30, 2016, when the contract signed in 2010 with Qatar Sports Investment comes to an end. “We are united by research and excellence. Qatar Airways, through all of its services, and us, in terms of sport”, stated Sandro Rosell.

The Barça president highlighted that other than economic benefits, this is also a new way of reaching the club’s worldwide fan base. “We have 300 million fans around the world and thanks to Qatar Airways we can build connections with them. Also, Qatar Airways’ relation with Barcelona Airport is getting more important every day. Thanks to them, thousands of international supporters will be coming in the future to Barcelona to discover its sights, but also to enjoy the experience of visiting our club”.

Faus: “The agreement opens new markets”

Barcelona Airport was, according to Javier Faus, the vice-president for economy and strategy, one of the key factors for accepting the change of name on the shirt, when it was proposed that Qatar Airways should feature instead of Qatar Foundation. “It is the biggest shirt deal ever” he said. “There are payments to come of 30.5, 32 and 33.5 million euros. And there is also a bonus of five million euros if we win the Champions League and we hope we can do just that in the next three years.”

“The agreement opens new markets that we were finding it hard to get to. It offers worldwide coverage that will help our marketing department”, continued Faus, who explained that the main partner deal involves some 50 to 60 different potential assets. “Qatar Foundation did not make use of them all, but Qatar Airways will. Now there’s the façade of the stadium. The Qatar Airways logo will appear on the seats, next to the Nike logo, and there’ll be a space for them in the Museum. All sponsorship deals around the world include things like these”.

Barça coloured planes

Akbar Al-Baker, executive director of Qatar Airways, added that “We share values, ambitions, courage and excellence with FC Barcelona. We also have a lot of social commitments. We will be using this partnership to help us in many areas”. One of these will be the painting of some of the fleet, 777 and 787 models, in the Barça colours. “We’ll be displaying Barça at all the world’s major airports”, said the director of Qatar’s main airline.

Al-Baker was impressed by the 2013 Asian Tour, and had nothing but praise for the club. “It has the biggest fan base in the world and that’s why wanted to associate ourselves with Barça. It is one of the best institutions on the planet”.

Assembly to vote on any extensions

Javier Faus added that the new FC Barcelona statutes that will be presented at the next Assembly state that any renewal of this contract will have to be voted on by the club members. Faus and Rosell also added that the contract might have been signed with Qatar Sports Investment, which own Paris Saint Germain, but this does not imply any kind of special relationship with the French football club. The president also made it clear that “this has been the most democratic agreement we have ever made, and was passed at two assemblies, at the second with 90% of the votes.”

On Tuesday evening at the Camp Nou, just before the first team training session, there will be a photo session involving the Barça players and coaches. Then at 19.00, the Club and Qatar Airways will be offering a reception to guests from the media in the museum.

Other sports, still undecided

Javier Faus explained that the club is still looking for sponsorship deals for the other sports sections. “We are looking either for a sponsor of all four professional sections, or one for each individually. The Qatar Airways contract does not include the other sports sections. Qatar Sports Investment had the option but decided not to take it two years ago”.

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