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Wearing a Barcelona shirt in Saudi Arabia could land fans in prison for up to 15 years

Date Posted,June 9, 2017

Barcelona fans in Saudi Arabia could be punished with up to 15 years in prison for wearing their team’s colours.

Barca shirts sporting the Qatar Airways sponsorship logo are said to have been outlawed amid tensions in the Gulf region over alleged links between extremist groups and Qatar.

The ban comes amid a diplomatic row as Saudi Arabia, along with Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE, blacklisted entities and individuals that they believed connected Qatar to extremist groups.

Qatar rejects the claims.

Qatar’s Arab neighbours have blacklisted entities, including Qatar Airways, over alleged extremist connections (Photo: Getty)
Tourists pose in front of a Qatar Airways advertising billboard (Photo: Getty)

Qatari blogger Raed Al-Emadi showed how censorship is being conducted in the country, with an image of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez blanking out the sponsor.

Saudi Arabia shut its borders to Qatar and closed transport links between the countries, including flights, and suspended diplomatic relations.

This could have a knock-on effect for preparations for the 2022 World Cup, restricting access to the country for the supply of materials for on-going building projects.

Barcelona’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu (L) and Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of their new shirt sponsor Rakuten (Photo: Getty)

Barcelona’s deal with the Qatar Sports Investment in 2011 was historic for the club as it was the first time the Catalans had a sponsor on their shirt.

That deal ends on June 30 when Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce company, takes Qatar Airways’ place for the 2017-18 season.

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