The Saudi Arabia-Qatar diplomatic crisis are striking sports hard. Barcelona fans in Saudi Arabia will not be able to embrace the team jersey. The Saudi Authorities have banned the Barcelona shirt in the country.
Wearing a Barcelona shirt in Saudi Arabia now risks a $151,000 (Rs 98 lakh approx.) fine and up to 15 years in prison.
The change in law follows the cutting of diplomatic relations and borders with Qatar, who the Saudi Kingdom this week accused of supporting terrorist outfit ISIS.
Saudi Arabia have moved to punish Barcelona’s shirt sponsors of four years, Qatar Airways, whose company logo adorns the Spanish club’s kit and other promotional material.
According to Sky Italy, those caught wearing shirts with the Qatar Airways wording now face a $ 151,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.
A ban could now follow in countries that sided with Saudi Arabia in the international row including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain.
Barcelona are, however, switching shirt sponsors to Japanese online retailer Rakuten from the 2017/18 season for four years.
Earlier, it was reported in March that Barcelona was closing in on new $55 million deal with Qatar Airway to extend the sponsorship by another four years.
Paris Saint-Germain were also affected this week as the Ligue 1 club’s Qatari owners have a shirt sponsorship deal with Emirates, but the UAE’s national carrier have stopped flights between the two countries.
However, the French club, who have two more seasons with Emirates, told Le Parisien: “It will have no effect on the club, there is no worry.”
Meanwhile, news reports suggest that Qatar is willing to hold a dialogue with the Arab nations to end the crisis. Accroding to Al Jazeera reports Kuwait has led a mediation effort to defuse an escalating crisis after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, along with Egypt and a group of smaller countries, severed relations with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting “terrorism” – allegations Doha denies.