<
>

Barcelona reconsidering Qatar sponsorship - Josep Maria Bartomeu

play
Neymar relishing Messi bond (1:47)

Barcelona forward Neymar believes his close relationship with Lionel Messi is helping the pair to thrive on the pitch this season. (1:47)

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has suggested that a worsening of the "social and political" situation in Qatar has led the club to question its commercial relationship with the Gulf State.

Barca's lucrative sponsorship deal with Qatar Sports Investments was signed by former club president Sandro Rosell in 2010, when Bartomeu was a club vice-president.

The contract, worth 165 million euros over five years, was controversial at the time and has since been criticised by prominent figures including former club president Joan Laporta.

The future of the sponsorship, which is in place until 2016, is likely to be one of the major topics of discussion in the build-up to this summer's presidential election at the Camp Nou.

Bartomeu told RAC1 that a change in the situation in Qatar meant the club were considering other options for a new kit sponsor.

"We will look at other options -- we are obliged to do that," Bartomeu said. "It ends in 2016. We are sensitive to the current situation in Qatar, which has changed since four years ago. Now there are social and political aspects which were not there when we signed.

"We must be sensitive about what is happening and make the best decision for Barcelona. [Agents] IMG are studying it and working with us. We will see when it happens in October 2015."

Bartomeu said that Barca's jersey again displaying the logo of the charity UNICEF, as it did during some of Laporta's time in charge, was "utopian" and would hamper Barca's efforts to be competitive on the pitch.

"The situation in football has changed a lot," he said. "We must be competitive with the rest of the teams. Now we have seen how the Chinese have come into Atletico Madrid and the Asians at Valencia.

"It is utopian for UNICEF to be on the jersey, but we will continue to cooperate with them. The proof is our '1 in 11' project. UNICEF is like a family. We have been together for many years."

Bartomeu also again said that Lionel Messi remained happy at the Camp Nou, despite recent suggestions to the contrary, while denying that the Argentine had been behind the club's recent surprise decision to replace its "team manager" Emili Sabadell.

"[Messi] has a contract, he is happy -- he said it himself," Bartomeu said. "We will not sell Messi. We are very happy with him. No player asked me for the head of Emili Sabadell."