Qatar buys its way to the top of Europe

By Paul Kennedy

No matter the outcome of the Barcelona-Paris St. Germain series on the field, there was one sure winner off the field.

Qatar has bought its way to the top of European soccer.

The Qatar Foundation (chaired by the Emir’s wife Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al Missned) is the jersey sponsor of Barcelona, whose president Sandro Rosell had close ties to the Qatar World Cup 2022 bid through his Bonus Sports Marketing.

Qatar Sports Investment, a branch of the emirate's sovereign wealth fund, bought Paris St. Germain in 2011 and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the French club.

In a first for Barcelona, a commercial entity will become the Spanish club's jersey sponsor as Qatar Airways will replace the Qatar Foundation in a three-year deal with an estimated value of $225 million.

Barcelona was the last major club to sell out to a commercial sponsor. The only name on its jersey before the Qatar Foundation in its 101-year history was UNICEF.

Beginning next season, PSG will have a new "sponsor" in the form of the Qatar Tourism Authority, which will pay upwards of $700 million over three years to be a PSG sponsor.

It's an outlandish sum, to be sure, but it is viewed as a way to circumvent UEFA's new financial fair-play rules intended to limit clubs to spending what they bring in "revenues."

Another Qatari, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nassar Al-Thani, is the owner of Spanish club Malaga and was in the news on Tuesday night for all the wrong reasons.

He claimed on Twitter that Malaga's dramatic defeat at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League quarterfinals was an injustice and blamed it on "racism."

Malaga has had an ongoing battle with UEFA over the new financial rules. UEFA will implement a season-long ban from its club competitions if Malaga doesn't settle debts it has with players, other clubs and taxing authorities.

'COLLEGE NIGHT' AT RFK. George Washington University's WRGW Sports will provide live English-language broadcasts of D.C. United's "College Night" game Saturday against the New York Red Bulls at RFK Stadium.

It will be the first time in GW history that Colonials Radio Central will carry an MLS game. The station has aired minor-league baseball and WNBA games.
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