Barcelona fans in Saudi Arabia could be punished with years in prison for wearing their team's jersey, while the club’s Emirati fans could also face jail time and large fines for wearing Barca jerseys.
Amid growing tensions in the Gulf region, Saudi Arabia are reportedly boycotting Qatar entities with Barca’s shirts sporting the Qatar Airways logo for the past four seasons.
Saudi authorities announced that the fans caught wearing shirts with the Qatar Airways wording now face €135,000 euro fine and up to 15 years in prison.
Earlier, UAE authorities had announced that social media posts sympathetic to Qatar are punishable by three to 15 years in jail, or a fine of at least 500,000 AED ($135,000).
Barcelona FC signed a historic deal in 2011 with Qatar Sports Investment to put a sponsor's logo on their shirts for the first time in 111 years. While the football club’s sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways ends June 30 – with Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten occupying the coveted spot during the 2017-18 season – the increasing tensions in the Gulf region have inflicted substantial collateral damage.
Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup is also at risk, as a multitude of critical construction projects will also face supply shortages.
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday, and suspended air and sea communication one week after the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh.
Later, Libya and Maldives joined that list of nation to break off diplomatic relations with Doha. Jordan also announced Wednesday that Amman has decided to reduce its diplomatic status after studying reasons behind the tension between Cairo, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Manama with Qatar.
The split among the Arab states erupted last month after US President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia where he accused Iran of "destabilizing interventions" in Arab lands.
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