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Qatar Airways becomes Roma's new shirt sponsor

Qatar Airways formerly sponsored the FC Barcelona football club [Qatar Airways]

Date of publication: 23 April, 2018

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The announcement comes one day before Roma plays in the Champions League semi-final, one of Roma's biggest games in decades.

Qatar Airways signed a three-year shirt sponsorship deal with Italian club and Champions League semi-finalist Roma, in what the club has called the largest ever of such sponsorship deals.

The deal's announcement comes one day before the first leg of a Champions League semi-final against Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday, one of Roma's biggest games in decades.

"We are delighted to announce this historic partnership between AS Roma and Qatar Airways, two great brands with global ambitions," said Roma's president Jim Pallotta. 

"Today's announcement is the result of discussions behind the scenes for more than eight months with Qatar Airways ... and comes at a significant time in the club's history, on and off the pitch," he added.

The deal will last until the end of the 2020-21 season, both parties announced. It is the latest such announcement in an increasing line of sporting sponsorships Qatar Airways has secured. 

The state-owned Gulf airline was formerly the Barcelona shirt sponsor for three years, a deal which ended in 2017. Qatar Airways is also one of the shirt sleeve sponsors on Bayern Munich and the German team's official airline. 

Roma and Bayern could meet at this year's Champions League final if the Germans score a victory against semi-final opponent and play holders Real Madrid. 

Qatar Airways also sponsors local club Al Sadd, whose captain is former Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez, and is a FIFA sponsor of the 2022 World Cup that will be held in Qatar. 

Meanwhile, Qatar Airways said on Monday that it will continue to expand as it prepares to announce "large" financial losses. The airline has faced a number of difficulties since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and regional power Egypt launched an air, sea and land blockade of the country in June 2017.

"We will keep on expanding, keep on recruiting not firing people, not parking airplanes, (and) shrinking the network, doing exactly the opposite," said Akbar al-Baker, the airline's chief executive. 

Barring Qatar Airways from using its neighbours' airspace has increased costs for the company during the 10 months since the crisis erupted. 

Baker also confirmed that plans to expand Doha's Hamad International Airport in time for the 2022 World Cup would go ahead.

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