Qatar to Sponsor Bayern Munich as Barcelona Talks Drag On

  • Doha's Hamad Airport in accord with Germany's top soccer club
  • Value and duration of `platinum'-level deal aren't disclosed

Qatar has signed up as a “platinum” sponsor of Bayern Munich, adding Germany’s richest and most successful soccer club to the range of football brands it backs following FIFA’s controversial choice of the oil-rich Persian Gulf state as host of the 2022 World Cup.

Doha’s state-owned Hamad International Airport agreed a “long-term” contract to sponsor Bayern Munich, Akbar Al Baker, chief executive officer of Qatar Airways, who also oversees the hub, said at a press briefing Wednesday. The value and duration of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Hamad becomes one of 10 second-tier partners backing FC Bayern, winner of a record 25 German national titles, alongside airline rival Deutsche Lufthansa AG and brands including Deutsche Post AG’s DHL and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Deutsche Telekom AG remains the club’s premier sponsor, with its “T” logo emblazoned on the front of players’ shirts.

Al Baker said Qatar Airways’s kit-sponsorship deal with Barcelona runs until June, without disclosing whether it will be renewed. Club President Josep Bartomeu said in October that he might still extend the accord despite a breakdown of talks, Spanish newspapers reported. The pact has attracted some opposition, including demonstrations over women’s rights in the Gulf.

‘Plenty of Money’

“Any entity can sponsor any club,” Al Baker said, when asked why Qatar’s airport rather than the better-known airline had sponsored FC Bayern. “If you have plenty of money, you can also sponsor if you want, with your name.”

The 2010 Barcelona deal -- which marked the first time the Catalan team had been paid to carry a sponsor on its jersey 111 years -- was the richest in soccer at the time, valued at 30 million euros ($33 million) a year. Qatar also owns Paris Saint-Germain soccer club, the reigning French champions, outright, via Qatar Sports Investments, an offshoot of its sovereign wealth fund.

Bayern Munich held its winter training camp in Qatar for the sixth time this year, a move that’s led to criticism in Germany over the Gulf state’s human rights record and the death-toll among migrants who comprise more than 90 percent of the workforce.

Three of the club’s four top-tier sponsors own shares, with Allianz SE, Europe’s biggest insurer, purchasing an 8.33 percent holding in 2014 for 110 million euros, matching the stakes held by kit provider Adidas AG and Volkswagen AG’s Audi unit. The businesses, like Deutsche Telekom, are German.

Qatar, holder of the world’s third-largest natural-gas reserves, was awarded the 2022 World Cup ahead of the U.S., Japan and Australia, despite the fact that it has never qualified for the tournament, has little soccer infrastructure and boasts summer temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit). The event has since been shifted to winter to ease conditions for players.

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