ITF: FC Barcelona election ‘will decide fate of Qatar Airways sponsorship deal’
Tomorrow’s FC Barcelona presidential elections are likely to seal the fate of any further sponsorship deal by Qatar Airways (QR), according to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). The ITF says that the gulf between the airline’s treatment of staff and the club’s strong social ethos is now so huge that it will figure in the choice of president by its 70,000 members, who will go on to vote in October on any further sponsorship.
The issue of the suitability of the airline – recently found guilty of discrimination by the International Labour Organization (ILO) – has been dramatically highlighted by the runaway success of a SumOfUs petition asking Barca to reject QR’s money. which gathered over 40,000 votes in just 24 hours. The brainchild of footballer Abdeslam Ouaddou, the petition is at http://community.sumofus.org/petitions/tell-the-barcelona-football-club-to-drop-qatar-airways-as-a-sponsor-until-it-treats-workers-fairly-1.
As of 10.00 today (Friday) the petition has been signed by 58,920 people, sending an unmissable signal to the voters of FC Barcelona.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin stated: “The response to the petition created by SumOfUs and Abdeslam Ouaddou is humbling. It shows how much people care about the climate of fear that QR workers suffer, and how they feel about Barcelona’s mission to uphold the values of common humanity.”
He concluded: “ITF general secretary Steve Cotton has explained to Barca’s fanclubs and its current president why this is about more than just a name on shirts, it’s about the club’s soul. Just a month after the ILO found Qatar guilty of allowing its state-owned airline to violate international and national agreements and institutionalise discrimination, it throws a further welcome spotlight on what QR workers have to go through. As we said then, world public opinion demands change at QR, and that change will come.” (See http://goo.gl/pIU2PO)
“Barcelona FC is one of the most beloved and respected football teams in the world yet it continues to count Qatar Airlines, whose continued abuse of women workers is well documented, as one of its main sponsors” said Nicole Carty, senior campaigner at SumOfUs. “Barcelona fans know the football team has plenty of alternative sponsors to choose from, which is why they are calling on the team to protect its legacy and sever ties with this workers’ rights abuser.”
This is the text of the SumOfUs petition page (http://community.sumofus.org/petitions/tell-the-barcelona-football-club-to-drop-qatar-airways-as-a-sponsor-until-it-treats-workers-fairly-1):
The women who work for Qatar Airways face an extremely grim reality: cabin crew are being exploited, imprisoned without charge, forcibly confined on company premises and automatically sacked if they become pregnant. These abuses are an everyday event not only in Qatar Airlines but in the Qatari national employment system.
Right now, Qatar Airways sponsors one of the most famous football clubs, the Barcelona Football Club. Barcelona’s millions of fans see the team as “more than a club”, revered not only for the quality of its players — like Neymar, Andrés Iniesta and of course, Lionel Messi — but for its allegiance to ethics, fairness and social justice. That’s why we’re asking the world’s most respected football club to cut ties with the airline until workers conditions improve.
Please sign my petition asking the Barcelona Football Club to drop Qatar Airways as a sponsor until worker’s conditions improve!
Why is this important?
Qatar’s national employment system, kafala, is cruel and brutal. Employers are allowed to prevent workers from leaving the country, even if they mistreat workers. The Qatar Airways CEO even said “I don’t give a damn about the ILO” – the UN agency representing workers’ rights.
My message to the sporting world, Barcelona and FIFA: we cannot legitimize a company that exploits thousands of vulnerable workers. It is against the values of the sport. We need to drop Qatar Airways as a sponsor.