FOOTBALL: EMIRATES AIRLINES 'NOT HAPPY' WITH ARSENAL'S ISRAEL DEAL
Dubai, 1 March (AKI) - Emirates airlines, which have bought the naming rights to Arsenal's new stadium, and whose logo appears on the team's shirts, have slammed a decision by the top-flight English football club to sign a sponsorship deal to promote tourism to Israel. The two-year 350,000 British pounds (around 610,000 dollars) agreement will involve promoting Israel on LCD billboards around the pitch of Arsenal's Emirates Stadium in London, news reports said. .
The club said it had cleared the deal with officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), whose national airline bought the rights to name the new stadium for around three million pounds (around 5.2 million dollars) a year. But a spokesman for the airlines has denied this. He told the Dubai-based daily Khaleej Times that the deal with Israel is "unfortunate, and we are obviously not happy."
"We will do our best to persuade Arsenal to not renew its deal with Israel," said the spokesman, who was not identified.
The UAE does not have any diplomatic relations with Israel.
Israel's tourism authority will run banner ads on the Arsenal web site when the deal begins at the start of the next football season, six months from now. Israel will become Arsenal's "official and exclusive travel destination," as specified in the contract.
Through the deal, Israel will gain wide exposure to millions of football fans worldwide. The Jewish state's tourism authority believes that around 2 million tourists are expected to be drawn to Israel through the publicity gained via Arsenal.
Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania are the only Arab nations who have diplomatic relations with Israel.