The logo for Spanish soccer team Real Madrid will be altered to remove the traditional Christian cross from apparel to be sold in some Middle East countries in connection with a regional licensing deal between the soccer club and Marka, a retailing group in the United Arab Emirates ("UAE").
Dubai-based Marka - which is also the UAE specific distributor of fashion brand, Carven - has been granted exclusive rights to "manufacture, distribute and sell Real Madrid products" in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Also part of the deal: The right to alter the club’s traditional crest logo. The company’s Vice Chairman Khaled al-Mheiri told Reuters that the crest will be altered due to cultural sensitivities. "We have to be sensitive to parts of the Gulf that are sensitive to products that hold the cross," said al-Mheiri, who owns a Real Madrid cafe in Dubai. The six Gulf Arab countries Marka will sell and distribute Real Madrid products in are all Muslim-majority.
The redesign of the Real Madrid crest will require “only a minor change with the original featuring a very small Christian cross at the top of a crown on the crest,” according to a statement from Marka, which will begin selling t-shirts, polo shirts and swimwear featuring the Real Madrid name and crest in March. The deal does not cover replica jerseys, which are sold in Dubai featuring the cross.
Interestingly, this is not the first time the symbol has been altered. In 2014, Real Madrid removed the Christian cross from its crest when used by its sponsor the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. Dubai-based airline Emirates is Real Madrid's main shirt sponsor, whilst the club is also sponsored by Abu Dhabi investment fund IPIC.