Tomorrow’s FC Barcelona presidential elections are likely to seal the fate of any further sponsorship deal by Qatar Airways.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) says that the gulf between the airline’s treatment of staff and the club’s strong social ethos is now so huge that it will figure in the choice of president by its 70,000 members, who will go on to vote in October on any further sponsorship.

The issue of the suitability of the airline – recently found guilty of discrimination by the International Labour Organization (ILO) – has been dramatically highlighted by the runaway success of a SumOfUs petition asking Barca to reject Qatar Airways’ money. which gathered over 40,000 votes in just 24 hours. The petition was the brainchild of footballer Abdeslam Ouaddou.

At the time of writing, the petition has been signed by 59,000 people, sending an unmissable signal to the voters of FC Barcelona.

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

He concluded: “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. Just a month after the ILO found Qatar guilty of allowing its state-owned airline to violate international and national agreements and institutionalise discrimination, it throws a further welcome spotlight on what Qatar Airways workers have to go through. As we said then, world public opinion demands change at Qatar Airways, and that change will come.”

“Barcelona FC is one of the most beloved and respected football teams in the world yet it continues to count Qatar Airlways, whose continued abuse of women workers is well documented, as one of its main sponsors” said Nicole Carty, senior campaigner at SumOfUs. “Barcelona fans know the football team has plenty of alternative sponsors to choose from, which is why they are calling on the team to protect its legacy and sever ties with this workers’ rights abuser.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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