How one little logo rocked Barcelona and left Johan Cruyff fuming

For a man whose love of a logo is so strong he’s more turned on by the drivers’ brand-plastered overalls than the pit girls at Formula One races, Monday couldn’t have been better for Sandro Rosell.

It was easy to tell just by looking at Rosell’s perky, beaming face just how tickled pink the Barça president was to have another logo to stick up on the walls of the Camp Nou club, as well as the institution pocketing some easy cash in the process.

Ever since Rosell took over the club last summer after defeating Joan ‘Joan’ Laporta in the presidential elections, the former Nike executive had been lustily stealing glances at the front of the Barça shirt in the same way that Maniche greedily eyes pie.

The previous six months had been hard on Rosell with the Barça big wig having to give up his former career of merrily ruining sport through branding it to death by selling his marketing company, BSM - a company that did a fair amount of business in Qatar, funnily enough.

But the Barcelona president had kicked off a cunning plan when he took control of the Camp Nou club which finally bore fruit over the weekend with the announcement of a €165 million, five year sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation.

It’s a deal which will see the Qatar Foundation’s brand plastered all over the club’s stadium, Leo Messi’s forehead and eventually Barcelona’s shirts which could be an issue for UNICEF considering both la Liga and UEFA have bans on double advertising - a loop-hole those greedy gizzards in Nyon will surely close at some point soon, as long as they get their cut first.

Rosell’s strategy was to arrive at the Camp Nou, claim that the coffers were empty and very publicly announce that a hefty €150m loan had been secured to pay the gas bill and the players’ wages along with the outstanding invoices for Carles Puyol’s ‘Soul Glo’.

Next up, it was the drip, drip, drip of invoices arriving at the offices of Marca concerning the alleged wastefulness of Laporta’s directors along with the encouragement of Barça’s members to vote for legal proceedings to start against the old regime in attempt to get some of the money back. Aside from wanting to annoy the heck out of his rival, Laporta, Rosell was softening up the socios so that the announcement of the deal with the Qatar government would be seen as a very necessary evil by the culé collective.

“The economic situation at the club is worse than we imagined,” gloomed Rosell at the formal presentation of the deal on Monday. “We have to do this to pay the salaries.”

The Barça president was also quick to counter the criticism of Johan Cruyff, who complained in his column in El Periódico that the image of the club’s shirt had been sullied with something as crude as a logo - apart from the Nike one, of course. “Cruyff is a legend and legends are always right,” grinned Rosell in response.

Whilst Barcelona are more than justified in signing what is the biggest sponsorship deal in football having gone without for so long - a deal that will cover 7% of the institution's annual budget - the club have fallen victim to their previous holier-than-thou attitude which saw Barça themselves paying UNICEF €1.5m a year to promote the international governmental organisation.

Tuesday saw a stinging rebuke from the editor of AS, Alfredo Relaño, a writer who in his defence has been a strong supporter of Barça over the years with an opinion piece noting that “the jump from UNICEF to Qatar, this immensely rich emirate where democracy is only a far-off Western concept and where apostasy is punishable by death is too far.”

Over at Sport, a paper always very close to the Catalan club, Joan Vehils writes that there is nothing bad to be said over the deal between Pep’s Dream Boys and their new insect overlords. “If the UN who have a reputation as a humanitarian organisation are agreeing to share space with Qatar...where is the problem?”

His work buddy, José Luis Carazo, is a little more forceful in defending the branding and complains that the likes of Florentino Pérez in the ‘media cave’ are wrong to comment on the deal - not that he has, to be fair - by ranting that “they all lie, manipulate and try to start new polemics every day.”

Carazo is then all with the loadsamoney by boasting that “neither the English clubs, nor the Italians, nor the ‘made in Florentino’ Madrid receive so much. They are all below Barça.”

However, it is another comment from the Sport writer that is most telling, an assertion that “those people who think that Barça’s new sponsor promotes anti-semitic ideas are wrong.”

If this is an argument required to justify a deal that will not sit well with many Barcelona fans, despite the supposed financial issues of the club, Rosell may soon wonder if the money received was worth it, when other less controversial groups could have been found for the same price.

And after all, isn’t doing marketing deals one of the biggest loves of the Barça president’s life?