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Barcelona FC presidential candidates under pressure to drop Qatar Airlines partnership

The results of Barcelona FC’s upcoming presidential election could influence whether the club commits to - or drops - under scrutiny shirt sponsor Qatar Airways.

On the eve of the election, the club is under pressure to cancel its partnership with Qatar Airways worth an estimated £41.65m annually over its alleged mistreatment of female employees.

One group lobbying the club is the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) which is running a determined campaign against the airline. It demands the club drops its shirt sponsor referring presidential candidates to a petition breaching 59,079 signatures at the time of publication.

Paddy Crumlin, ITF president, said: “The response to the petition is humbling. It shows how much people care about the climate of fear that QR workers suffer, and how they feel about Barcelona’s mission to uphold the values of common humanity.”

“ITF general secretary Steve Cotton has explained to Barca’s fanclubs and its current president why this is about more than just a name on shirts, it’s about the club’s soul.”

The backlash against the club reached new heights last month after the International Labour Organisation (ILO) found Qatar guilty of breaching a number of international and national employment agreements.

Josep Maria Bartomeu will be hoping for re-election, although former club president Joan Laporta who served the maximum stint between 2003 and 2010, has also pitched in his lot.

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