Lionel Messi
Imago / Insidefoto

After a number of accusations were levelled at Barcelona regarding their partnership with main sponsors Qatar Airways, the Blaugrana have decided to release a number of details about the agreement.

The club released a statement on their official website in which they provided a number of clarifications “following a series of statements, opinions, and information questioning the Club’s thoroughness and good management in relation to the contract with Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) for the main sponsorship of the Club between December 2010 and 30 June 2016.”

Barcelona revenue from QSI sponsorship agreement (Graphic:
Barcelona revenue from QSI sponsorship agreement (Graphic:

The figures show a consistent increase from the date the contract came into effect, with €15 million received in 2010/11, €26 million in 2011/12, €29 million in 2012/13, €30.5 million in 2013/14, €32 million in 2014/15 and €33.5 million in 2015/16. Barcelona received an additional €5 million in 2014/15 as a bonus for winning the Champions League.

In total, the revenue from the deal, which saw Qatar Airways appear on the club’s famous Blaugrana shirts from 2013 onwards (replacing Qatar Foundation, which appeared between 2011-2013), came to €171 million over the period.

In response to the allegations made by former members of the club’s hierarchy that some directors had been taking hidden commissions from the payments, Barcelona underlined that “the contract was duly audited for the last six seasons (as was the rest of the Club’s finances) by Deloitte, an external company, which reviewed all information regarding the Club’s economic activity and verified that the audit faithfully illustrated its economic management, with no exceptions whatsoever.

“FC Barcelona calls for responsibility and reserves the right to take legal action in the face of defamatory statements and false accusations against the honourableness of the Club’s management,” the statement concluded.

Barcelona’s shirt sponsorship contract with Qatar Airways in fact comes to an end on 30th June, with Rakuten taking over as shirt sponsors from next season. The end of the agreement could not be more timely for the Spanish giants following the political tension in the Middle East that has led to a number of countries severing ties with Qatar.

This tension has even led to an apparent censorship of the Barcelona shirt sponsor; the above photo taken in the United Arab Emirates appears to show the Qatar Airways logo covered with white paint.

More pertinently for Barcelona, the four-year agreement with Rakuten, which comes into effect from 1st July, is worth €55 million a season plus title bonuses. There is also an option to extend the contract for a further season.