16 Dec 2010

Cruyff slams Barca sponsorship deal

3:57 pm on 16 December 2010

The Barcelona great Johan Cruyff has criticised the Catalan football giants for agreeing a record shirt sponsorship deal worth 54 million dollars a season with the Qatar Foundation.

The deal is the biggest ever in the history of strip sponsorship in football, worth 295 million dollars until 2016.

But the former Dutch superstar believes it goes against the history of the club's fabled strip.

Cruyff says the by signing the deal, Barcelona whose slogan is more than a club had become "just another club".

Cruyff says socially they've made a bad deal.

Barca will place the Qatar Foundation on their shirts alongside the existing logo for UN children's agency UNICEF, which they have sported for the five years while forgoing the riches of commercial sponsors.

Qatar, the tiny energy-rich Gulf Arab country, was picked by FIFA to host the 2022 World Cup and Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola - who played for Qatari outfit Al-Ahli towards the end of his career - acted as one of their ambassadors during the bidding process.

The Qatar Foundation was set up in 1995 by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, to foster education, scientific research and community development in Qatar, the Middle East and beyond.

Despite success on the field, Barcelona are struggling financially.

The club posted a loss of 142 million dollars last season - their first in seven years - and they have debts of 790 million dollars.