Originally published in The Guardian
Real Madrid have removed the traditional Christian cross from their official club crest after signing a lucrative three-year deal with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.
The crest, which was originally designed in 1931, usually contains a cross on top of a crown but that has been removed for use in the Middle East in order not to offend Muslim sensibilities in the region. The original design will continue to be used in Europe.
In September, Real signed a deal with the bank at the Bernabéu stadium, with president Florentino Pérez hailing the deal as a “strategic alliance with one of the most prestigious institutions in the world”.
“Our brands are looking to strengthen their leadership and increase their global prestige,” he added.
The Spanish sports newspaper Marca was one of several critics of the move, describing it as evidence “the club is willing to compromise on aspects of its identity in pursuit of these new fans”.
According to Algemeiner, a Jewish newspaper based in America, this move could be the first of several designed to appease Arab backers. Last month, Real also signed a deal with the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC,) which is exclusively owned by the Abu Dhabi royal family, and could be considering incoporating a name change to finance the redevelopment of the Bernabéu.