“The contract between FC Bayern and Qatar Airways ends by mutual agreement after five very exciting years together,” said FCB in a press release. The wording came as a bit of a surprise, as reports have been circulating in recent weeks that those responsible in Munich would tend to extend it.
The German football record champion has made a decision public that is actually quite normal for a sports company: the contract with a sponsor was terminated, “by mutual agreement”, as club circles say. And then? After the report, there was a heated discussion on the Internet, in the press, because one thing is and has never been the case between the German champions and the state-owned company Qatar Airways: normal.
FC Bayern Munich and Qatar: A story from the modern world of football, in which old and new players pact. The old players have what the new players want: presence. And the new players have what the old players want: money. In the case of FC Bayern and Qatar Airways, the state airline that became a platinum partner in Munich in the summer of 2018, it is said to have been 25 million euros per season. And from a sporting point of view, you have to say: the deal was worth it. Since then, FC Bayern has won the championship five times, the DFB Cup twice – and the Champions League once.
Now both borrowers and lenders announced the end of this story. “The contract between FC Bayern and Qatar Airways ends amicably after five very exciting years together.” This is what the statement says in which the powerful men from Munich and Doha express themselves: CEO of FC Bayern AG Dreesen and Akbar Al Baker , CEO of Qatar Airways. Now the question arises whether the separation was really as amicable as the managers want to sell it. The statement reads the variant of a common history that goes beyond sports, bowls and trophies. “The connections that FC Bayern was able to establish with its fans in the Arab world through Qatar Airways will remain. Both partners actively promoted an exchange between cultures. It has always been the goal of FC Bayern and Qatar Airways to connect people through football, including women’s football. Friendships were formed through trusting, open exchange that will continue to exist.” But there is also an alternative version in this regard. It comes from the south stand of the stadium in Munich – where the most critical fans of FC Bayern can be found.
There are two sources who are familiar with the content of the negotiations and say that Qatar Airways is said to have signaled to FC Bayern months ago that it does not want to continue the sponsorship because the yield is no longer good enough. A spokesman for FC Bayern only said that several talks had been held this year and otherwise refers to the statement.
As research by German journalists shows, the negotiations between Qatar Airways and the successful German club were very advanced. Accordingly, there were already contracts ready to be signed. In the end, however, the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, vetoed and canceled the planned extension.
According to reports, the World Cup in Qatar, especially the events and debates surrounding the German national team (rainbow tie, gestures by the German players before the Japan game), contributed to Qatar finally deciding against an extension.
It all began in January 2011. Back then, the FC Bayern soccer team traveled to Qatar for a training camp for the first time, to the emirate in which human rights violations are regularly documented to this day, extremist Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood being sponsored by them. After that, Bayern kept flying there – and negotiated new deals. With Hamad International Airport and then with Qatar Airways. A deal that then sparked a big argument with those who are called family at FC Bayern: the club’s own members. In January 2020, “Club Nr.12”, the independent association of active FC Bayern fans, organized a panel discussion. The title: “Qatar, human rights and FC Bayern – open your hands, shut your mouth?” A representative of the club was also invited. In November 2021, the general meeting then escalated. The unchanged accusation: The club supports the exploitation in Qatar through its silence. FC Bayern then reacted: The club organized a roundtable – with critical members and representatives from the desert state. Both then answered a detailed catalog of questions from the fans.
“It’s hard to believe that the critical reaction of a dedicated and organized section of FC Bayern fans to Qatar’s sponsorship wasn’t a major factor in this decision,” writes Nick McGeehan, founding director of the human rights organization Fair Square. The spokesman for the “No.12 Club”: “The No. 12 Club is pleased with the developments. While clubs in other European countries are currently being taken over by sovereign wealth funds, we believe the decision is going in the opposite, correct direction. From the fans’ point of view, however, it is certainly not a day for howling in triumph, but simply a joyful day that shows us that it does have an influence when fans and members stand up for or against something. We hope that lessons have been learned overall from this time and in particular from the 2021 Annual General Meeting and we would like to thank everyone who was so committed to the matter and some of whom were badly attacked for it. This decision today is good for us fans, but more importantly: good for the club as well.”
Regardless of whether the end of this deal was amicable or not, FC Bayern believes that it can keep its sponsorship income at the same level without the money from Qatar. And Qatar Airways seems to think it could invest its money in other projects, perhaps in countries where the investment is less critical.
FC Bayern Munich and Qatar – a connection that doesn’t necessarily have to end. The club cannot rule out that its teams will hold their training camps in the emirate again in the coming winters.
All publishing rights and copyrights reserved to MENA Research and Study Center.