The Qatar Foundation's $225 million sponsorship of F.C. Barcelona -- which has already linked the club with a Muslim cleric who has called for all Jews to be killed -- has run into two more controversies that pit the club against its fans:
- The foundation is run by the wife of the emir of Qatar, a nation which voted at the United Nations in favor of executing homosexuals.
- The Qatar Foundation is run by the Qatar royal family, the absolute monarchs of that country. This is anathema to Barcelona, which prides itself on its historic links to the anti-monarchist forces in the Spanish Civil War.
The Qatar/homosexuality issue is a hot one in soccer right now after FIFA president Sepp Blatter said, "I'd say they should refrain from any sexual activities," when asked what gay fans should do at the 2022 World Cup, which will be held in Qatar. He later apologized.
The Qatar Foundation also supports the Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development, which "conducts research and promotes scholarship on the legal, sociological, and scientific basis of the natural family as the fundamental unit of society." The institute doesn't have a whole lot to say about gays, as you can imagine.
Bombed by the monarchy
Some fans have also expressed dismay that the Qatar emir's wife is the head of their new shirt sponsor. Barcelona's stadium was literally bombed by royalist forces during the Spanish Civil War, and now the club is financially dependent on a different monarchy.
Currently, there does not appear to be enough discontent to scupper the deal, although there is already talk that fans might show up to the stadium in vintage Barcelona shirts to protest the Qatar Foundation's logo appearing on the new one.
Separately, club president Sandro Rosell has said that the foundation made a good faith mistake when it gave money to an association run by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. (The sheikh has been banned from the U.S. and the U.K. for supporting suicide bombings and for his anti-semitism.) Rosell's explanation seems unlikely given that al-Qaradawi's views are extremely well-known and that HH Sheikha Mozah Nasser al-Misnad, the chairman of the foundation, opened the thinktank personally.
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