ITF applauds FC Barcelona rethink of Qatar Airways sponsorship

February 6, 2015

The ITF has applauded Barcelona football club for considering dropping its lucrative sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways over what club president Josep Maria Bartomeu described as “social issues”.

The ITF strongly criticised the purchase by Qatar Airways of a 10 percent stake in British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), which was reported on 30 January. The airline’s chief executive officer already sits on the board of Heathrow Airport, where Qatar owns a 20 percent stake.

The FC Barcelona move follows a request from the ITF in October 2014 for the club to reject further sponsorship by Qatar Airways once the current deal expires, because of the airline’s dictatorial treatment of its workers, which is incompatible with Barcelona FC’s values of justice and fairness. The call is part of the union Re-run the Vote initiative, which aims to deprive Qatar of the right to stage the 2022 World Cup while it continues to shrug off the deaths and maltreatment of workers building the infrastructure for the event.

The airline’s offences against its staff are so serious that in June 2014 the ITF submitted a case against the state of Qatar to the ILO (International Labour Organization).

Steve Cotton, ITF general secretary, said: “We’re delighted that Barca has done the right thing. It has listened to public and expert opinion. For as long as this airline and its host country shun basic rights and turn a blind eye to suffering they have no place on the shirts and the stadium of a club that is dedicated to upholding social and community values. Similarly, it should have no place on the IAG board.”

ITF president Paddy Crumlin added that Qatar was on trial not just at the ILO, but in the court of world opinion, and hoped that one day its airline would put justice first and abide by its human and international obligations.

Express your views on both of these developments on Twitter and Facebook using hashtag @ITFglobal union, and see what others are saying at

Read more about the treatment of workers by Qatar Airways

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