FC Barcelona jerseys are expensive as it is, but wearing one in Saudi Arabia just got much, much more expensive, and riskier too.
Thanks to the political instability of the region, Saudi Arabia is cutting ties with 2022 World Cup host (sigh) Qatar. That has a cascading effect, because the main shirt sponsor for FC Barcelona over the past few years is none other than Qatar Airways:
The change in law follows the cutting of diplomatic relations and borders with Qatar, who the Saudi Kingdom this week accused of supporting ISIS.
Saudi Arabia have moved to punish Barcelona’s shirt sponsors of four years, Qatar Airways, whose company logo adorns the Spanish club’s kit and other promotional material.
According to Sky Italy, those caught wearing shirts with the Qatar Airways wording now face a €135,000 euro fine and up to 15 years in prison.
That’s not good news! FC Barcelona remains one of the biggest and most popular soccer teams in the world, thanks to their employment of Messi, Neymar, and plenty of other top names.
Fortunately, there should soon be a solution for Saudi Barca fans. (No, it’s not the end of political conflicts in the Middle East, though that would certainly help.) Barcelona is changing shirt sponsors for next season:
Barcelona are, however, switching shirt sponsors to Japanese online retailer Rakuten from the 2017/18 season for four years.
Anyway, this seems like an extraordinarily silly thing to do, but it’s a complicated region with intense and deeply rooted conflicts and rivalries. Buy a new jersey, apparently, if you want to support the team.