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July 14, 2015
Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center has called upon FC Barcelona to sever ties with Qatari organizations – namely Qatar Airways – and refuse the $90 million endorsement it receives from them annually.
“This is blood money and FC Barcelona and Bartomeu [president of the club Josep Maria Bartomeu Floreta] must publicly reject [the endorsement] before the elections this week,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of the Tel Aviv-based human-rights organization, arguing that Qatar is known as a country that supports terrorism, from Hamas to ISIS, and that accepting the endorsement is akin to openly supporting Islamic terrorism.
FC Barcelona, in December of 2014, reportedly said it would gradually cut ties with the Qatari government due to the alleged terror financing in which Qatar takes part. Darshan- Leitner said, however, it has not done so.
In the past, FC Barcelona has accepted more $200 million from Qatar-based organizations – mainly Qatar sports investment – in endorsements, and Israel has repeatedly called on the popular Spanish team to cut ties with Qatar.
These calls come at a sensitive time because Bartomeu is up for reelection as president of the club on July 18. His opponent, Joan Laporta, has pledged to sever ties with all Qatari- based organizations if he is elected.
Bartomeu, nevertheless, still holds a significant lead with 8,554 signatures compared to 4,272 collected by Laporta.
Many of the players allegedly support Laporta over Bartomeu.
The letter sent by Shurat HaDin details the relevant FIFA standards that must be followed, including “non-discrimination” and “promoting friendly relations,” arguing that the “Qatari government’s routine support for anti-Semitic, anti-Western terror groups is support of the most violent form of discrimination”.
Furthermore, the letter argues that, given Spain’s history with terrorism and extremist violence, it should not align itself with a state that is so heavily connected with many terrorist groups.
Qatar also has been known for supporting the Afghan Taliban.
The letter goes on to say: “FC Barcelona’s financial ties with Qatar places [your] the football team in very strange, suspect and possibly criminal company.”
Qatar is already facing international scrutiny because of its various human-rights violations connected to the building of stadiums for the world cup in 2022, as well as for giving more than $400 million to Hamas, the de facto government in the Gaza Strip. Qatar is also home to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.
Qatar was accused of corruption in last month’s FIFA scandal.
FC Barcelona declined to comment. Qatar Airways was not available for comment.