Barcelona FC has come under pressure as a result of a petition demanding the team drops shirt sponsor Qatar Airways over its alleged mistreatment of female employees.
The airline is under pressure especially for a sub-clause enabling it to sack pregnant staff. Its position as a major sponsor of the Spanish side which previously championed Unicef on its shirts from 2006 to 2011 has come under fire as a result.
Fans of the club criticised its transition from a charitable sponsor to that of the Qatari firm. Tens of thousands of people flocked to sign the petition in under three days to have the sponsor removed.
The petition reads: “Right now, Qatar Airways sponsors one of the most famous football clubs, the Barcelona Football Club. Barcelona’s millions of fans see the team as “more than a club”, revered not only for the quality of its players -- like Neymar, Andrés Iniesta and of course, Lionel Messi -- but for its allegiance to ethics, fairness and social justice.
“We cannot legitimize a company that exploits thousands of vulnerable workers. It is against the values of the sport. We need to drop Qatar Airways as a sponsor.”
The airline has been a sponsor of the Catalan giant since the start of the 2011/12 season.