Barcelona extend UNICEF shirt deal to 2016

MADRID Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:09pm GMT

Barcelona's player Lionel Messi arrives in Sala Paris (Paris Chamber) before being appointed a new UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador at the Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona March 11, 2010. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

Barcelona's player Lionel Messi arrives in Sala Paris (Paris Chamber) before being appointed a new UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador at the Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona March 11, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Gustau Nacarino

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MADRID (Reuters) - Barcelona have extended to 2016 a deal with UNICEF under which the La Liga side pay $2 million (1.25 million pounds) a year to display the name of the United Nations Children's Fund on the back of their shirts.

The current agreement was due to expire next year and the Barca directors approved a two-year extension at a board meeting on Tuesday, the Spanish champions said on their website (www.fcbarcelona.es).

Barca and UNICEF first joined forces in 2006 and Barca's Argentine World Player of the Year Lionel Messi is one of the fund's global goodwill ambassadors.

The club used to have the UNICEF name on the front of their shirts, which made them one of the few sides in football not to display a corporate logo.

They agreed a sponsorship deal with Qatar Sports Investment worth 30 million euros a season in 2011 and the shirts now feature the name of airline Qatar Airways.

Dropping the UNICEF name to the back was controversial and prompted accusations the club was selling out and compromising their ideals for material gain.

Barca officials argued that the injection of cash at a delicate time for the club's finances was needed to help fund the development of their sports teams and help them compete with wealthy rivals.

(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Justin Palmer)

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