Although many fans don't like it, shirt sponsorship deals have become part of soccer's financial lifeblood in recent years.
In Britain's Premier League alone, it generated combined revenues of 147 million pounds
(about $236 million) last year, while international football federations get more than $2 billion
in sponsorship annually.
Despite bringing in much of the cash that is needed these days to pay for top players, having a sponsor's logo emblazoned on their club's shirt still sticks in the craw
of many supporters who feel it often compromises their team's traditions and values.
The fact that some clubs have signed sponsorship deals with partners of dubious provenance
has also done nothing to endear fans to the practice.
Many Barcelona supporters, for example, are still smarting over their team's decision to sacrifice its charitable use of the UNICEF logo to take 150 million euros
(around $95 million) from the Qatar Foundation.
The Catalan club had famously held out against taking the corporate shilling for years, but then upset lots of fans
by eventually accepting money from an organization that is partly funded by a government with a somewhat dubious human rights record
Now, Barcelona's La Liga rival Atletico Madrid could also be going down a similar road.
that the Europa League champions are on the verge of signing a sponsorship deal with Azerbaijan.
According to the sports newspaper, besides having the oil-rich Caucasian country's name on its shirt, the deal would also see Atletico playing a friendly match with an Azerbaijani team "as well as different communication activities to strengthen the image of the club and spread the message about certain aspects of the country."
Although, the 12 million euros (some $15.5 million) that Azerbaijan would fork out for the first tranche of sponsorship would be a welcome addition to the club's coffers, there are undoubtedly many fans who will feel a tad uneasy about promoting a country whose authoritarian government has a somewhat sullied reputation for crushing political opposition
as well as widespread corruption
-- Coilin O'Connor