The new FC Barcelona kit has been released today and it marks a ‘changing of the guard’ as the club’s sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways has come to an end and there’s a new logo across its shirt – Rakuten.
You might not have come across it before – it’s an online retailer which is Japan’s answer to Amazon and Alibaba. It’s one of the world’s biggest e-commerce sites by sales.
Last year, it agreed to pay the Catalan side €55m per year for four years to have its name on its blue and maroon jerseys.
The deal also includes €1.5m bonus payments each time they win La Liga and a €5m bonus for bringing the Champion’s League trophy back to the Camp Nou.
It also has the option of extending the deal for a fifth season.
According to the club, the road to the commercial sponsorship began when Barcelona defender Gerard Pique and his wife Shakira met Rakuten’s owner, Hiroshi Mikitani, in 2015 during Barcelona’s US pre-season tour.
“Gerard Piqué and Shakira are very close friends with Mr Mikitani … It was in the summer of 2015, Gerard organised a dinner in San Francisco during our summer tour. At that dinner we met Mr Mikitani, who was, for us, an incredible person,” Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barcelona’s president, commented.
Turkish electronics brand Beko features on the sleeve and Intel currently has a deal to have its logo printed on the inside of Barcelona shirts.
Barcelona signed its first deal with a kit sponsor in 2010 when it partnered with The Qatar Foundation.
According to the Deloitte money league, Barcelona was the second richest club in the world last year