Barcelona FC is well-known for their soccer jersey. The traditional blue and red vertical stripes are instantly recognized and even copied by other teams. The jersey was also renowned for not having a jersey sponsor for decades but that all changed in 2006. Soccer365 looks back at the history of Barca’s jersey sponsors.
Rakuten became the Blaugrana’s latest jersey sponsor after announcing a mega deal worth $58 million per season over 4 seasons with an option to extend for an additional year. It is one of the most lucrative jersey deals in the game and will insure that players like Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez stay put in Catalonia capital.
Barcelona was the last major European soccer team not to have a jersey sponsor although jersey sponsors are a relatively recent phenomenon with European teams only embracing the strategy in the 1970’s.
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The sponsor free era ended for Barcelona in 2006 when they signed a partnership with UNICEF. The relationship was as unique as not having a sponsor as Barcelona donated $1.5 million per season to the charity ratherr than be paid to wear the brand’s logo.
UNICEF is no longer the front of the jersey sponsor for Barcelona but still have a strong partnership and a placement on the back of the club’s jersey under the player number. The club continues to help give back by increasing their donation to $2.1 million per season this year.
“Our groundbreaking partnership with FC Barcelona has helped transform the lives of 1 million children worldwide, giving them the chance to learn, play and take part in sport. We are delighted to be working with one of the world’s most successful and popular football clubs to change the lives of even more children in the coming years so millions of children get a chance to fulfill their potential,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth said at the extension earlier this month.
The Qatar Foundation official ended the 111-year history of no jersey sponsorship when they signed a 5-year deal to replace UNICEF on the front of the jersey for a then world record amount of $31 million per season. The deal was finalized in December 2010, eight days after the Middle Eastern nation won the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The partnership with the Qatar Foundation included a clause that allowed Qatar Airways to assume the jersey sponsorship after 2 years and that was confirmed in early 2013. The $45 million per season deal kicked off ahead of the 2013/14 season.
Qatar Airways completed the initial 5-year deal and extended it for an additional year. The last minute deal came so late that rumors were circulating the Barcelona would once again play in a jersey without a sponsor but those fears were put to rest in July.
The major sponsors looking to replace Qatar Airways included Pepsi, Ferrari, and Amazon but Rakuten stepped up their game to finalize the deal that was announced last week.