Qatar Airways, as the main global partner of FC Barcelona, has assisted the launch of Penya Barcelonista Mashariki (PBM), the first official club for supporters in Kenya.

A ‘Penya Barcelonista’ is a group of supporters who are officially recognised by FC Barcelona, and the launch of the Kenyan branch took place at the Capital Club in Westlands, Nairobi.

Since its beginning, FC Barcelona has set out to characterise itself as not just a football organisation, but also as a force for globalisation, solidarity, integration and social cohesion.

Commenting on the role of Qatar Airways in proceedings, CEO Akbar al Baker said: “As FC Barcelona’s global partner, we are committed to initiatives that unite the club with its fans.

“As one of the most popular sports in the world, football instantly touches the hearts of millions, and supporting one of the most exciting clubs in world football offers us an important platform to connect emotionally to the fans of this beautiful game.”

The fondness for FC Barcelona on the African continent, which has produced stars like Seidu Keita, Alex Song, Samuel E’too, is typical of the club’s diversity and football’s global spirit.

FC Barcelona has nine pre-existing official supporters clubs in Africa: Nigeria’s Penya Barca de Lagos Club, South Africa’s Mzansi Penya Barcelonista; Senegal’s Penya Blaugrana de la Casamance; Gambia’s Sambou’s Barca Fans Club; and five separate entities in Morocco.

With the launch, Kenyan and East African supporters of FC Barcelona who sign up with the Supporters Club will now have access to the football club’s merchandise at reduced rates, venue discounts during match viewing, and access to tickets for matches at Camp Nou.