Real Madrid drops Christian cross from crest after UAE deal

Spanish football giant Real Madrid has reportedly dropped the Christian cross affixed at the top of its official crest after signing a sponsorship deal with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

According to Spanish sports daily Marca, the club's president, Florentino Perez, revealed a new credit card sponsored by the bank last week, 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. Outside the UAE, the club crest has not been altered, it reported.

Perez said the partnership with the Abu Dhabi bank symbolised for Real Madrid a "strategic alliance with one of the most prestigious institutions in the world."

In September, The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) signed a three-year agreement to become the exclusive banking partner of Real Madrid in the UAE.

The deal, which is extendable and could spread to incorporate the entire Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, saw NBAD become the only bank outside of Spain to issue co-branded Real Madrid credit and debit cards.

Last month, Real Madrid also agreed a "long-term strategic partnership" with Abu Dhabi fund International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) that will strengthen the club's status as the world's richest, and help fund a planned stadium overhaul.

The agreement includes setting up Real museums and expanding their soccer schools around the world, as well as creating content for digital media platforms.