February 10, 2011

Barcelona are sellouts

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

One of the last bastions of purity in sports is falling. In an effort to increase their already monstrous flow of income, Barcelona FC has decided to finally put a sponsor’s name on the front of their jerseys. This will mark the first time in the club’s 112-year history that it has done so.

Wait a second, you say, I’ve seen Barcelona play and they have a logo on their jersey! It’s UNICEF, for crying out loud.

You could say that, and technically be right, but the fact of the matter is that UNICEF doesn’t actually sponsor the team, it’s more like Barca sponsored UNICEF. For years now, Barcelona has donated $2 million per year to the organization to wear their logo on the kits – not exactly the same as selling ad space on your uniform, right?

Well now, I guess since they’re concerned about getting people to come to the desert and visit them for the World Cup in 2022, Qatar is going to pay Barca $40 million per season for the La Liga leaders to wear its logo.

Sure, UNICEF will still be on the players’ backs, underneath their names apparently, but this move finally proves that anything in pro soccer is absolutely for sale, as long as the price is right. I mean, if a historic club can defy its history from more than a century ago, what else is proverbially not bolted down?

Are we close to seeing ads on the actual pitch? Sponsors scrawled across kits similar to European hockey players? A small logo on the centre of a ref’s yellow card? I don’t have many doubts any more.

This is even more disappointing when you consider the other news of the day: The financial reports for soccer were released. There Barca was, trailing only their rival Real Madrid , as the second most profitable team in the world. Barcelona pulled in $489.3 million last year, a 10% increase over the previous year and – gasp – roughly $49.8 million behind Real.

I guess getting to within $7.8 of their rivals was worth much more than the club’s diginity of not selling out in its lengthy history.

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