Israel's tourism promotion deal with English Premier League side Arsenal that was signed this week received a chilly response from the club's sponsor, Emirates Airlines, yesterday.
The airline, which has naming rights to Arsenal's new stadium and whose logo appears on the team's shirts, slammed the two-year $600,000 deal that will involve promoting Israel on LCD billboards around the pitch of Arsenal's stadium in London.
The club said it had cleared the deal with officials in the United Arab Emirates, whose national airline bought the rights to name the new stadium for $5 million a year. But an airline spokesman told the Dubai-based daily Khaleej Times yesterday 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.
Under the terms of the agreement signed Sunday, Israeli tourism advertisements will be displayed on sideline billboards during televised games and on 450 screens at Arsenal's new Emirates Stadium, set to open in August.
Israel will also run banner ads on the team's Web site. The televised ads will reach audiences in 198 countries, officials said.