So, like Vic’s new kit? That forest green is nice. Kind of Robin Hood. I never went in for last season’s tiger sleeves. Remember when he had long hair, har har? Yeah, so … wait. What’s that next to the netting? What are those, advertisements? What’s that squiggly writing on ’em? And that … tree? Right there on the pitch?!?
Now, I’m not going to get precious about this, because the other images I Googled had “MasterCard” splashed across the back line, and then there’s those Walking Whoppers of Getafe. There are lots of teams all over La Liga who don’t have any sponsor at all, so you better eat everything on your collection plate.
Barcelona socis, though, are up in arms. Some are collecting signatures in protest, others are speaking out to the media. According to an interview with Sandro Rosell in today’s La Vanguardia, the club’s contract with the Qatar Foundation will be submitted to a board referendum as early as September 24.
Now, the Qatar-Barcelona deal has been controversial from the start. It doesn’t do public relations much good when you kick UNICEF to Xavi’s hleb and turn every Messianic goal into a foreign ad. And there was some brouhaha over whether or not some Foundation funds found their way to some un-fun people. But now Rosell is comparing shirt sponsorship to smoking in Camp Nou. Barcelona counts 7 million socis, but only 170,000 pay dues. And those dues-paying members will seal the deal if they know what’s good for
us (he means them, which in any case is probably not you.)
Besides, it’s not like Qatar Foundation spends its time stealing lunch money from UNICEF orphans. “Qatar,” says Sandro, “‘is what it is.” And what is that? you may ask. “We know what it is,” he replies. “It is a country in the Middle East.” Ah! you exclaim. The sidra tree! Now it all makes sense! But did you know that Qatar is also a needy country? “It’s a country asking for help,” Rosell explains, “help from the West” (that would be, well, me and probably you, depending on where you are right now.) “Qatar wants to open itself up to the world,” Rosell assures, like China and Nixon but with less Nixon and a lot more oil. “We can help them,” he cries, “help them on the path to a democratic future.” Because when you’re a Middle Eastern sheikh with three wives and almost thirty kids to support, you don’t need that 1.5 billion in personal net worth. No, you’re out singing “Kumbaya” with the Webmaster Wunderkinds in Arab Spring Square. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, he might keep the change, but not you.
Then again, you’ve probably never seen the lovely sheikha. You ought to, because I keep writing about her, but y’all blow her off in order to pull hair and gnash teeth over Barça boards and sell-out shirts. Go refresh your manita (make mine a double, Lady B!) and I’ll refresh your memory:
Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned is the third missus of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (and I thought it would be too much trouble to hyphenate my married name). She’s 53 years old, has been married to Sheikh Hamad for over 3 decades and has seven kids. Nice, right? Lovely lady.
Then there’s all them smarts. She’s got a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Qatar and honorary PhDs from Virginia Commonwealth, Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon, Imperial College London, and Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.
And if you’re thinking about protesting on behalf of culés everywhere, you might as well call her directly. Just ask for the Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, where she kills time when not serving as President of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, or twirling pencils as Vice Chair of the Supreme Education Council, or flying paper airplanes as Chairperson of the Sidra Medical and Research Center; or stealing Swingline staplers as Chairperson of the Silatech Initiative … or maybe she’s whirlie-chair racing as Chairperson of the Arab Democracy Foundation. You might have to leave a message, though, since she may be on a little road trip as a UNESCO Special Envoy or a UN Alliance member, or just hobnobbing with her fellow Forbes 100 most-powerful women, or 25-most influential Middle Eastern business leaders according to The Times of London. I’m sure she’ll get right back to you.
Oh, and did I mention that she looks like this? Forget the royal enchufe, forgo the whole enchilada of titles and degrees. This is the woman who received a personal acknowledgement from Viennese conductor, Christoph Eschenbach, during the Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day concert. She’s charmed the medallions off of Prince Phillip of England. Every time she leaves the house, some Best-Dressed fashion editor falls into conniptions. And — even more importantly, from a cultural-icon standpoint — my gay-male-friends-who-worship-Cher long ago faved her on Facebook. This gal would leave Don Draper in a puddle of weepy Jell-O … what do you think someone like ol’ Sandro says to her?
Probably he just nods and signs. That’s what most of us do. And then he turns to us and says, “Qatar Foundation, for example, is the world’s leading investor in stem-cell research to cure all kinds of disease.”
So that’s all, really. If you want to watch the Magisterial FC Barcelona in some Catalonian deserted lot, if you want the Great Messi to leonize London (or, God forbid, Madrid!), if you want to break the hearts of all those charming xiquets who look to the Fundació for their welfare, if you want people to die of cancer and Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis and all of those awful afflictions that Mrs. Mozah works so hard to cure, by all means vote “No” on September 24.
But that’s not going to be Sandro. ‘Cause otherwise he might find a certain Chanel bootie in the backseam of his suitie.