The Real Madrid Football Club’s logo before and after alteration.
Spanish soccer heavyweight Real Madrid dropped the Christian cross affixed at the top of its official crest after signing a lucrative sponsorship deal with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. At an unveiling ceremony in the Gulf emirate earlier this week, the club’s president, Florentino Perez, revealed a new credit card sponsored by the bank, which doubles as a Real Madrid club membership card. On the card, the club’s iconic “Los Blancos” badge is missing the cross atop its royal crown.
Its absence is seen as a gesture to placate Muslim fans in the region, according to Spanish sports daily Marca. Outside the U.A.E., the club crest has not been altered. Perez said the partnership with the Abu Dhabi bank symbolized for Real Madrid a “strategic alliance with one of the most prestigious institutions in the world.” Real Madrid, one of Europe’s most well-known and decorated soccer clubs, has a rich, deep history. It emerged after the horrors of the Spanish Civil War as the club of the establishment, unabashed by its monarchist pedigree and favored by the fascist dictator Francisco Franco.