Qatar Rift Gets Messy As Saudi Arabia Bans Messi, Barcelona Shirts
It is now a crime to wear a Messi or Barcelona shirt in Saudi Arabia with the Qatar Airways’ insignia.
This is because Saudi Arabia has criminalised wearing the Barcelona shirt in the country as the country’s rift with Qatar deepens.
Qatar Airways has been a sponsor of the Catalan team for four seasons, with its name emblazoned on the club’s jersey.
Now, the Saudis have decreed that wearing the shirt could earn one a fine of up to £120,000 and a 15-year prison sentence.
The new decree came after the Kingdom also banned hotels from watching Al Jazeera channels, a global TV network supported by Qatar.
Tensions in the Gulf region have seen countries such as Saudi Arabia boycott Qatari entities – and their measures could impact football fans who wish to wear Neymar and Lionel Messi replica shirts.
Qatar’s Arab neighbours have blacklisted entities such as Qatar Airways over their alleged extremist connection but Qatar have rejected the claims.
The ban comes amid a diplomatic row as Saudi Arabia blacklisted entities and individuals that they perceive as connecting Qatar to extremist groups, with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain included.
Barcelona have been sponsored by Qatar Airways for the past four seasons, but they have agreed a new four-year deal with Japanese online retailer Rakuten from the start of the 2017-18 campaign.
Last summer, Barca’s own fan base called for the club to cut ties with Gulf state Qatar, which included a petition signed by over 60,000 people.