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The Globalist's Top Ten Books in 2016: The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer

Middle East Eye: "

The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer is one of the weightiest, most revelatory, original and important books written about sport"

“The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer has helped me immensely with great information and perspective.”

Bob Bradley, former US and Egyptian national coach: "James Dorsey’s The Turbulent World of Middle Eastern Soccer (has) become a reference point for those seeking the latest information as well as looking at the broader picture."
Alon Raab in The International Journal of the History of Sport: “Dorsey’s blog is a goldmine of information.”
Play the Game: "Your expertise is clearly superior when it comes to Middle Eastern soccer."
Andrew Das, The New York Times soccer blog Goal: "No one is better at this kind of work than James Dorsey"
David Zirin, Sports Illustrated: "Essential Reading"
Change FIFA: "A fantastic new blog'

Richard Whitall of A More Splendid Life:
"James combines his intimate knowledge of the region with a great passion for soccer"

Christopher Ahl, Play the Game: "An excellent Middle East Football blog"
James Corbett, Inside World Football

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Barcelona endorses $225 million Qatar shirt sponsorship deal

By James M. Dorsey

European champions FC Barcelona Saturday approved a controversial $225 million shirt sponsorship deal with Qatar Foundation, the first such a deal in the club’s illustrious history and the largest in soccer history.

Barcelona’s general assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of the deal rejecting a petition by thousands of fans and despite its denunciation by the club’s former legendary coach Johan Cruijff who described the 5.5-year deal as “vulgar.”

The club signed the five-and-a-half year deal, touted as the largest shirt sponsorship deal in football history, in December but the decision to collect money for the first time in its history to display a logo on its jerseys did not go down well.

In a statement on its website, Barcelona said the assembly endorsed the deal with 697 votes against 76 and 36 abstentions.

The Qatar Foundation, founded in 1995, funds education, scientific research and community development projects primarily in the Middle East. The non-profit organization is headed by the wife of Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

Opponents of the shirt deal accused Qatar of being an autocratic state that has no opposition groups and has repeatedly postponed parliamentary elections.

Countering critics Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, who played for Qatar's Al Ahly from 2003 to 2005  expressed support for the deal, describing Qatar as "the most open Muslim country".

"Qatar is opening up to the Western world and I know the efforts that the foundation is putting in to do some really good things. I think that we often don?t understand the Muslim world - nor they us," Mr. Guardiola said on Barcelona’s website.

The deal comes as Barcelona is struggling financially. Barcelona posted a $107 million loss last season and has debts of $596 million.

Barcelona vice president Javier Faus told members that the club's board felt it had no choice but to accept the shirt sponsorship because "it has a substantial economic impact". 

Mr. Faus noted however that the deal could be cancelled when the current board's mandate ends in three years’ time.  "We wanted to solve financial questions but didn’t want the agreement to be irreversible," he said.

James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.

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