“We often don’t understand the Muslim world,” says Barca coach Pep Guardiola. (Getty Images)

Guardiola Defends Qatar

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola praises the Gulf state of Qatar in the wake of a vote by the club to consider scrapping a controversial sponsorship deal with the Middle Eastern country.

Barca signed a five-and-a-half-year shirt sponsorship deal in December worth up to $230 million with the non-profit Qatar Foundation.

However, the decision to collect money to display a logo on the club’s shirt for the first time in its history has not gone over well with fans who have pressured board members to re-think the agreement.

Guardiola, who played for Qatar’s Al Ahly between 2003 and 2005, defended the oil-rich state, telling AFP: “I can tell you that I lived for two years in Qatar and my family and I received wonderful treatment.

“Qatar is opening up to the Western world,” added the 40-year-old, “and I know the efforts that the Foundation is putting in to do some really good things. I think that we often don’t understand the Muslim world – nor they us.”

Thousands of Barcelona fans signed a petition for the deal to be revoked. But the board decided on Saturday to stick with the existing contract. The Barcelona General Assembly approved the deal with 697 votes for and 76 against.

Aston Martin Sponsor 1860 Munich

British sports-car manufacturer Aston Martin has become a sponsor of German second division club 1860 Munich, entering the football market for the first time in its history.

The initial contract with 1860, who were on the brink of financial collapse recently, is reported to be worth several million euros annually.

1860 General Manager Robert Schaefer said: “This contract means that our task is to now drive the club forward with all our energy.”

As one of the founding members of the Bundesliga, the club has a long history.

An Aston Martin spokeswoman said: “Munich is a very important market for Aston Martin in Europe. The club have a great tradition, a great brand and very loyal fans.”

Chelsea to Promote Barbados

Chelsea FC will help promote tourism to Barbados across North America, the Carribean and the UK after signing a three-year deal with the Barbados Tourism Athority (BTA).

The agreement allows Chelsea to connect with fans in the Carribean and also hold events in the region.

In a statement on the club’s website, BTA vice-president of sales and marketing in the UK Petra Roach said: “This partnership is much more than getting our Barbados message out to Chelsea fans on matchday. We want to harness the charitable spirit of the club and work together on some exciting community projects both in Barbados and the UK.

“Barbados and Chelsea have a natural synergy as we both strive to be the best in our respective fields. It fits perfectly with our theme for 2012, The Year of Sport; from grass roots to world class, and we are building upon Barbados’ already strong reputation for sporting events and activities.”

Man Utd, Mister Potato Team Up

Images rights to Man Utd’s star players are included as part of the deal. (Getty Images)

Manchester United have further extended their sponsorship ranks in eastern Asia by agreeing to a new deal with Malaysian brand Mister Potato.

A product of Mamee-Double Decker Bhd, Mister Potato becomes the Official Global Snack Partner of Manchester United and will be advertised on the digital boards around the pitch at every Premier League match.

Datuk Pang Tee Chew, CEO for Mamee-Double Decker, said “As a global snack partner of Manchester United, we are able to provide the opportunity for Malaysian fans to have the ‘Ultimate Man Utd Experience’, by giving them the opportunity to watch matches live at Old Trafford, a chance to win official signed merchandise and potentially meet their favorite players or

The initial deal is set for three years, but Tee Chew said that they have the intention to extend the deal after this period.

The agreement also allows Mister Potato packaging to carry images of Manchester Utd. players such as Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Park Ji-Sung.

Yahoo Secures New Deal with LMA

Yahoo! has agreed to a deal with the League Managers Association (LMA) to renew their online media partnership.

The new deal is an extension of Yahoo!’s current agreement, which gives the website access to a variety of video and print material from the top Premier League managers as well as Premier League highlights.

It means that the internet firm has the right to produce, write and broadcast exclusive interviews with members of the LMA, with Yahoo! users able getting the chance to put forward questions to the managers.

LMA’s chief executive Richard Bevan said: “The LMA is delighted to renew its partnership with Yahoo! and to be working with a brand of such global visibility.”

Interviews will be hosted at www.yahoo.co.uk/dugout each week, and Andrew Cocker, Yahoo!’s European director of consumer marketing, said: “Our partnership with the League Managers Association gives Yahoo! a genuinely differentiated and authoritative voice to accompany our Premier League highlights.” 

INSIDER’s Christian Radnedge

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