Protesters ask FC Barca to rediscover its soul

October 23, 2015

Qatar_protestA group of airline cabin crew members will gather outside the FC Barcelona members’ meeting in Barcelona on Sunday (25 October) to ask the football giant to search its soul – and reject further sponsorship by Qatar Airways.

The protest will take place at the Palau de Congressos de Catalunya, Av. Diagonal, 661-671, 08028 Barcelona ( from 09:30 to 11:00. Press and photographers are invited to attend. There will be a strong visual element to the protest (see

The protestors will be asking the members – socios – to uphold the club’s ideals of social responsibility and fairness, and reject further sponsorship by Qatar Airways.

ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) policy coordinator Sarah Finke will be outside the Palau. She explained: “FC Barcelona is, as it’s members, players and fans proudly proclaim, ‘More than a club’. It’s a way of life, with a strong social ethos. Barca’s mission isn’t just world class football, it’s to keep fairness and justice in its heart and soul. We believe that is incompatible with accepting sponsorship from Qatar Airways.”

She continued: “Qatar Airways personnel live under constant surveillance and the threat of instant dismissal for ‘offences’ such as having a tattoo, being pictured in a Facebook post at the beach, or holding a cigarette or drink. They describe it as living in a climate of fear. They are barred from having a union to speak out for them. Qatar Airways staff have no voice. FC Barca members do. We ask them to search their souls and say no to this tainted sponsorship deal. Don’t sponsor fear in Qatar Airways”

Qatar Airways (QR) staff – who have to sign a lifelong confidentiality clause on joining that prevents them ever talking publicly about the airline – are subject to:

• Company searches of accommodation while crew members are on a flight

• Instant dismissal for having tattoos even when these are not visible in uniform

• Using too much hair gel, wearing your hat wrongly or other minor grooming discrepancies can result in termination

• The use of mobile phones in uniform is not permitted

• Crew members are not allowed to volunteer themselves as witnesses to any passenger complaint

• If leaving the country for days off or annual leave, the company needs to authorise an exit permit. Crew members who have been issued with warnings may be denied such permits and therefore cannot leave the country

• Under the company’s code of practice female staff can’t be dropped off or picked up from company premises by a man other than their father, brother or husband

For more on the rules imposed on cabin crew at QR see

Until recently, Qatar Airways contracts included a clause reserving the right of the company to sack female cabin crew who become pregnant. It removed this from all new contracts after the ITF and the International Trade Union Confederation submitted a case against Qatar to the International Labour Organization (see and Although the clause has been removed QR has not publicly presented any evidence that proves that the practice has stopped.

The ITF first approached FC Barcelona in October 2014 asking it to reject further sponsorship by Qatar Airways because of the airline’s dictatorial treatment of its workers, which is incompatible with the club’s values. ITF general secretary Steve Cotton told the club that: “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.”

For more details please contact Sam Dawson on tel: +44 (0)20 7940 9260. Email:
On Sunday morning (only) in Barcelona please contact Sarah Finke or Nuria Belenguer on tel: +34696391710. Email:


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