A lot has happened in the soccer marketing industry in 2022, so use this as a resource to track the biggest stories from new sponsorships and partnerships to ownership and digital media trends.
Click the link in the table of contents below to be taken to a particular soccer marketing news section.
According to GlobalData, 46% of clubs in the five major European leagues have at least one crypto partnership. Here in the North America, the Mexican National Team is the latest to add a crypto partner. Bitso will sponsor the Men’s team through the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Fubo Gaming announced a partnership with the Houston Dynamo that makes the company, a subsidiary of fuboTV, the club’s Official Sports Betting Partner. fuboTV’s logo will also be featured on both the Dynamo and Houston Dash training tops.
Several MLS teams have announced new partnerships. First, New York City FC and Dude Wipes announced a multiyear sleeve partnership deal. Sporting Kansas City and Compass Minerals, previously a sleeve sponsor, announced a multiyear deal that makes the mineral distributor the team’s front-of-jersey sponsor.
St. Louis CITY SC won’t begin play until the 2023 season, but when they do finally kick a ball, they’ll do so in Centene Stadium thanks to a 15-year naming rights partnership with Centene Corporation. The St. Louis-based health insurance company also recently announced a sleeve partnership deal with Charlotte FC. As part of their Charlotte FC partnership, Centene is also covering the cost of personal seat licenses for nearly 1,900 fans.
D.C. United announced a front-of-jersey partnership with blockchain company, XDC Network. The deal sees XDC become the official blockchain and NFT marketplace partner of the club with promises of unique access and experiences for fans.
Also in jersey sponsorship news is Columbus Crew and Tipico agreeing to a deal that sees the global sportsbook operator’s logo added to the right sleeve. Pending licensing and regulatory approvals, Tipico plans to launch its mobile sports betting app in Ohio.
After long-rumored talks of a potential deal, FC Barcelona and Spotify officially announced the details of their long-term partnership. Spotify’s logo will appear on the front of the jersey and training kits for both the Men’s and Women’s teams. Additionally, the historic Camp Nou stadium will now be known as Spotify Camp Nou.
The NWSL and Delta Airlines have entered a multiyear partnership ahead of the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup, which begins this weekend. Delta becomes the Official Travel Partner of the league and will work with NWSL to help teams meet their travel needs.
Nashville SC and GEODIS, a French-owned logistics and supply chain company, announced a partnership deal that sees the largest soccer-specific stadium in the U.S. called GEODIS Park.
The fastest-growing cryptocurrency platform in the world, Crypto.com, is now an official sponsor of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The company will activate its sponsorship through the providing of new and existing users to attend tournament games, win exclusive merchandise, and more.
QatarEnergy is now the second Qatar-based company to become an Official FIFA Partner ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The company is one of the largest providers of liquified natural gas in the world and fills the final global partner position for the tournament.
MLS announced a multiyear partnership with DoorDash making it the official on-demand delivery platform of MLS, MLS NEXT, and eMLS. To kick things off, MLS NEXT and DoorDash worked together to uncover stories of sacrifice by members of the soccer community and provide $150,000 of annual relief.
As we approach the 2022 FIFA World Cup, expect more participating players to add brand partners to their portfolio. For example, Sergiño Dest signed a deal with BioSteel, joining Christen Press, Patrick Mahomes, and Luka Dončić as the sport hydration drink’s roster of athlete ambassadors.
FOX Sports announced its broadcast schedule for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. All 64 games will feature across FOX and FS1 with the former carrying 35 games. FOX Sports will produce 226 total hours of programming for the tournament, 98 of which will come via studio shows. Check out the full release for other highlights and the full broadcast schedule.
USL announced a multiyear partnership with TV and appliance brand, Hisense USA. As part of the partnership, USL and Hisense will work together to build mini pitches to provide new playing opportunities for local youth. The first field will be unveiled in the Tampa area later this year.
Xero, a cloud-based accounting software company, has been named the latest FIFA Women’s Football Partner under the FIFA’s new commercial partnership structure. The partnership covers the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, as well as the 2024 and 2026 FIFA U-20 and U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cups.
The NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars announced their newest jersey partner, CIBC. The bank becomes the team’s highest valued sponsor in the team’s 15-year history.
For the first time in 11 years an American company will be a sponsor of the FIFA Men’s World Cup. Blockchain technology provider Algorand will help FIFA develop a digital assets strategy, which may potentially include FIFA’s entrance into the NFT space. Algorand will be a third-tier regional partner with rights to the North American and European markets.
UKG and the NWSL announced a three-year partnership that sees the multinational tech company become the title sponsor of the NWSL Challenge Cup. As part of the deal, UKG will boost bonuses for the player pool with the 2023 amount being close to $1 million. The partnership is part of UKG’s Close the Gap Initiative.
Foreign exchange broker OANDA has entered its first-ever sports partnership. The New York-based company will become the sleeve jersey sponsor of the New York Red Bulls and be visible both on the real-life jersey, as well as the team’s jerseys in EA SPORTS FC.
For the third time, financial services company Ally – already with a presence in MLS and NWSL – will be the presenting sponsor of the Women’s International Champions Cup.
MLS announced a new multi-year partnership with Caterpillar Inc. – one of the world’s leading manufacturers of construction and other industrial equipment. For Caterpillar, the partnership was born out of an effort to evolve the brand so it’s representative of the diverse employees and customers it serves.
Federación Mexicana de Fútbol (FMF) and Wells Fargo announced an extension of their existing partnership. The multi-year deal sees Wells Fargo deepen its connection with the U.S. millennial and multicultural fanbase via the Mexican Men’s and Women’s National Teams tours.
MLS and IHG Hotels & Resorts announced a multiyear partnership that sees one of the global hospitality leaders the status of Official Hotel Partner of the league. The pair will create unique experiences for IHG rewards members and fans. Reward points can be redeemed for MLS tickets, VIP access at MLS events, exclusive content, and more.
U.S. Soccer and Chipotle announced a multiyear partnership extension that sees the quick-service restaurant become the Official Mexican Restaurant of the Federation. As part of the partnership, Chipotle will remain the title sponsor of the Young Female and Young Male Player of the Year. The extension will also include digital content featuring various players.
After a memorable 20-year partnership with PUMA, the Italian National Team will soon be sponsored by adidas. The four-year deal covering the men’s, women’s, youth, and esports teams starts in 2023 and is reportedly worth roughly $39 million, annually. PUMA will still provide the men’s jerseys for the 2022 FIFA World Cup should the team qualify.
MLS announced it will leverage a $25 million loan from a syndicate of Black banks in a deal facilitated by the National Black Bank Foundation. The partnership provides a tangible step in the efforts to close the racial economic gap, support racial justice initiatives, and raise awareness of Black-owned banks.
Real Madrid and Cisco announced a multiyear partnership that sees the U.S.-based networking and security company provide, among other things, Santiago Bernabéu Stadium with enhanced Wi-Fi 6 capabilities making it one of the most technologically advanced sports stadiums in the world.
MLS and Sorare, the player-owned fantasy sports game utilizing NFTs, announced a multiyear partnership allowing MLS fans the ability to freely trade and play with MLS NFTs for the first time.
Lionel Messi has partnered with fan token company, Socios.com, to help promote their digital offerings. The multiyear deal is worth a reported $20 million.
The Washington Spirit announced a groundbreaking partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center. The performing arts theater will be the front-of-jersey partner of the team during the 2022 season.
Ahead of the tournament in July, TikTok has become the Official Entertainment Platform of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 and aims to help grow support for the competition. Fans should keep an eye out for innovative special effects and sounds, TikTok LIVEs, and Euro-inspired hashtag challenges.
Soccer United Marketing, the marketing arm of MLS, has agreed to extend its partnership with the Mexican soccer federation. The six-year extension includes the negotiation of commercial partnerships and sponsorships, as well as promotion and operation of the Mexican National Team’s U.S. tours.
U.S. Soccer recently announced a three-year partnership extension with KT Tape. The company that revolutionized the sports performance and recovery industry with its elastic sports tape originally became a partner of U.S. Soccer in 2014 ahead of the FIFA World Cup. Among the current KT Tape ambassadors is U.S. Women’s National Team players, Kelley O’Hara.
USL League Two team, Vermont Green FC, announced a partnership with Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s – yes, the ice cream company – to advance social and environmental justice in the state. The first initiative between the two entities will raise funds for historically marginalized communities in Vermont.
Just Women’s Sports and the NWSL recently announced a media partnership that sees the female-focused sports outlet acquire rights to distribute league highlights from the current and previous seasons. Just Women’s Sports will also bring its pre-game show, The Warm-Up, to the NWSL Championship game.
INFRASTRUCTURE, OWNERSHIP, & COMPETITION
According to Front Office Sports, Inter Miami is on the verge of a $1 billion redevelopment project that would see the MLS club build a stadium on the grounds of the Melreese Golf Course and Country Club. If the plan proceeds, the roughly 27,000-seat stadium will also be joined by a shopping mall, hotel, and park.
Indy Eleven announced it has acquired 20 acres of land in downtown Indianapolis that will serve as the future home of the team. Eleven Park will be anchored by a 20,000-seat stadium, but also include a hotel, office building, apartments, and other entertainment space.
FIFA announced the list of North American cities that will host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, including 11 cities in the U.S., three cities in Mexico, and two in Canada. For a rundown of a list and our thoughts on their selection, check out our announcement recap.
After nearly a year and half of uncertainty surrounding the franchise, MLS and Real Salt Lake officially introduced their new ownership group. The group includes multi-sport team owner David Blitzer, Utah native and Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith, and former NBA All-Star and champion Dwyane Wade.
The Ringer recently published an article detailing the rise of wealthy Americans seeking ownership opportunities in European soccer. From England and Italy to France and Spain, the American influence continues to grow.
The influence of American ownership of European clubs continues as co-owner of the Boston Celtics, Steve Pagliuca, reached an agreement to become an owner of Serie A team Atalanta.
Nashville SC recently added some star power to their list of owners. Joining the team are former Heisman Trophy winner and current Tennessee Titan star Derrick Henry, as well as actress and Tennessee native, Reese Witherspoon.
The co-owners of Premier League club Aston Villa have entered into exclusive talks with MLS about an expansion team in Las Vegas. Should their vision come to fruition, reports suggest a 25,000-seat stadium will be built with the capability of hosting games indoors.
Kevin Durant increased his involvement in soccer by becoming a minority owner of the NWSL’s NJ/NY Gotham FC with business partner Rich Kleiman. The NBA star is also a minority owner of the Philadelphia Union.
The sale of Chelsea to a consortium led by American Todd Boehly has been approved by the UK government. The part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers takes over after purchasing the club for $3.1 billion – the highest price paid for a sports team since the Carolina Panthers were purchased for $2.3 billion in 2018.
A group led by former Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has purchased Leganés of the Spanish second division. The group, called Blue Crow Sports, also includes investors from Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Canada. Earlier this month they acquired Mexican club Cancun FC.
Last year MLS and Liga MX announced a new event, Leagues Cup, that saw teams from both leagues competing against each other to crown a champion. Both leagues just announced the tournament will be put on pause this year as each gears up for the expanded 2023 tournament to feature all 47 teams in both leagues.
The lineup for the Women’s Cup, to be hosted at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, is officially complete after AC Milan and Tottenham were unveiled as participants. The Italian and English clubs join the NWSL’s Racing Louisville and OL Reign, as well as Club America, and Japan’s Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Beleza.
In case you missed it, MLS announced the 2023 MLS All-Star Game, presented by Target, will be held on July 19 at Audi Field – home of D.C. United. The opponent will be announced at a later date.
BROADCAST, DIGITAL MEDIA, TECHNOLOGY & GAMING
After announcing in late 2021 that NBC Sports would retain the Premier League broadcast rights in the U.S., the Premier League recently announced broadcast rights acquisitions in Canada and Mexico. In Canada, fuboTV will carry all 380 games in the 2022/23 and 2024/2025 seasons on its streaming platform and Fubo Sports Network linear channel. In Mexico and Central America, Paramount Plus will carry the league through the 2024/25 season.
In other fuboTV news, the streaming platform has agreed to a sublicensing deal with FOX Sports and will showcase select games during a variety of UEFA competitions, including Euro 2024 and Euro 2028.
Turner Sports and HBO will be the new home for U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team friendlies, FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, and the SheBelieves Cup when the current deal with ESPN and FOX Sports ends in 2022.
FIFA launched its own soccer-focused streaming platform called FIFA+. The platform features exclusive archive clips and full games, original content and documentaries, and live games from domestic leagues around the world. Check out the ad-funded platform here.
FOX Sports announced it will feature in-game previews and live pre-game shows on Twitter for every single game of the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup and 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Following the wrap of the 2021-22 Premier League season, NBC Sports released a recap of their season of coverage. Among the highlights are 12 games topping 1 million viewers, as well as it being the second-most watched PL season to date among American viewers. The top three local markets across the season? Washington, D.C., Norfolk, and Cincinnati.
Starting with the 2023 season, MLS will broadcast rights will be owned by… Apple! The Apple TV app will be the exclusive home for all MLS action, including no local blackout rules – a first for major professional sports leagues in the U.S. Apple will also broadcast select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT.
DIGITAL & SOCIAL MEDIA
TikTok continues to expand into the soccer world thanks to a new partnership with the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the governing body of African soccer. Fans of the African Cup of Nations, which began earlier this week, can look for pre- and post-game content, highlights, and other engaging videos to further immersive themselves in the tournament.
Famous social media personality and former Real Salt Lake Academy player, Noah Beck, has partnered with MLS to become the league’s first Social Playmaker. Beck will create content throughout the season to promote the league and its players.
After a successful partnership during the 2018 and 2019 FIFA Men’s and Women’s World Cups, FOX Sports has renewed its partnership with Twitter for the 2022 and 2023 Men’s and Women’s tournaments, respectively. The @FOXSports and @FOXSoccer accounts will continue to house nearly real-time highlights, but new this year is the usage of Twitter Spaces for analysis throughout the tournaments.
The NBA announced a multiyear partnership with Zebra Valley, Kylian Mbappé’s production company. The pair will collaborate on original content.
You can find MLS in person, you can find it on TV and streaming, and you can soon find it in the metaverse. The league and the MLS Players Association signed a multiyear partnership with GreenPark Sports, a social gaming company looking to change how fans interact with their favorite teams.
Nashville SC and Nashville-based investment manager Valkyrie Investments announced a partnership. The most intriguing part of the deal? Nashville SC will become the MLS team to accept a full sponsorship fee in bitcoin. The interest in accepting the deal stems from an alignment between MLS, Nashville SC, and crypto and blockchain demographics.
In an effort to gain more younger fans, UEFA has created its own game that lives in the Roblox Metaverse. Users can create their own character, train with three virtual characters, and compete against the clock in games ahead of the Women’s Euro 2022. 50% of Roblox users are kids under the age of 12.
Real Madrid has created a 3D version of their famous Santiago Bernabeu stadium in the metaverse in hopes of connecting with younger, digitally-savvy fans. Those in the metaverse can walk through the stadium, including the team’s trophy cabinet.
Recent UEFA Champions League winner Dani Carvajal has formed a partnership with MetaSoccer, the world’s first soccer metaverse. Metasoccer provides NFT holders an opportunity to play the role of manager as they compete against other players or the computer. Carvajal joins the likes of Ronaldinho who was previously announced as a Metasoccer partner.
Also in the Metaverse world, Real Betis becomes the first to sell team-licensed clothing on a startup called Fancurve that allows users to dress their avatars in sports jerseys. The first of the Betis-inspired jerseys is due to drop today. Fancurve includes investment from the likes of German player Mario Götze.
In 2021, La Liga partnered with Verizon to organize a FIFA esports tournament aimed at engaging the Hispanic American gaming community. According to La Liga, over 6,300 fans competed in the tournament that had over 4.6 million views and 190 million impressions across 6.4 million minutes of streamed content.
As a result of the ongoing pandemic, the 2022 eMLS League Series 1 and Series 2 events are no longer in-person. eMLS Cup is still slated to be held in-person at SXSW in March, however. Fans interested in watching both events in January can view on Twitch, Twitter, and the MLS website.
Liga MX and Konami announced an agreement that will see the top Mexican league featured in eFootball. The deal ends a relationship between the league and EA Sports that spanned more than 15 years. Konami and eFootball now have exclusive licensing rights making it the only game in which Liga MX fans can play with their favorite teams and players.
Ahead of the season, NWSL and the NWSL Players Association agreed to the first collective bargaining agreement in league history. The CBA is in effect through the 2026 season and includes an increase in minimum salaries, other investments in the league’s players, and a free agency system starting in 2023.
After a well-publicized fight for equal pay, the U.S. Women’s National Team players and the U.S. Soccer Federation agreed to a $24 million settlement to be divided among several dozen current and former players. Moving forward, U.S. Soccer has pledged to equalize pay between the Men’s and Women’s teams in all competitions.
A new professional women’s soccer team in Minnesota, competing in the USL’s W-League, turned to crowdsourcing for funding and raised over $1 million. The initiative, run via Wefunder, received donations from 3,080 people across 48 states and eight countries. Team shareholders can sell their shares following a one-year holding pattern, during which they have exclusive team perks as investors.
In honor of the January transfer window in soccer, fans in the UK will have the opportunity to bid via eBay on soccer legends to play on their adult league teams. Interested fans can purchase a raffle ticket to be eligible to bid. All proceeds from the raffle will go toward Football Beyond Borders, a social inclusion charity.
Looking for something to watch on Netflix? The three-part Neymar documentary, The Perfect Chaos, is now available for viewing.
In the past we’ve highlighted TOCA Football’s desire to create an experiential entertainment venue akin to Top Golf. After launching its first venue in London, TOCA announced it will open a TOCA Social in Dallas by 2023. The 56,000 sq. ft. venue will have 34 boxes where groups can play interactive soccer games.
We’ve seen the NFL host regular season games at Wembley Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in an attempt to build their international audience. The international soccer and American football crossover continues, this time in a new country. The NFL announced it will play its first-ever regular-season game in Germany at Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena.
In the wake of the the Russian and Ukranian conflict, several sponsors have cut ties with teams, while Russia and its clubs are suspended from international play. UEFA and Schalke 04 have canceled their deals with Gazprom, while Manchester United removed Russian airline Aeroflot as a partner.
U.S. Women’s National Team and Washington Spirit player Trinity Rodman can now add published author to her resumé. The NWSL’s highest-paid player has written a children’s book called, Wake Up and Kick It with Trinity Rodman. The book aims to inspire the next generation of athletes to achieve their goals and dreams.
Ahead of Angel City’s FC’s debut in the NWSL Challenge Cup, The Guardian interviewed one of the club’s owners – Hollywood actress Natalie Portman – whose inspiration to form an ownership team began, in part, via a desire to amplify the successes of female athletes.
Diageo liquor brand, Johnny Walker, has partnered with musicians Brittany Howard and Tia P. to produce an official anthem for NWSL’s Angel City FC. The anthem, Running with the Angels, is the brand’s first initiative as part of their First Strides program that aims to fund people and organizations pushing culture forward.
In the wake of a British private equity firm investing $2.3B in La Liga, Front Office Sports details the ambitious goals of the league as it hopes to become, at minimum, every fan’s second favorite league in every country other than their own domestic league.
What’s a sport sponsorship category yet to be unlocked? In 2020, USL partnered with Synchronicity becoming the first U.S. professional sports league to enter a joint venture with a hemp oil company. What about the larger cannabis category? The Cannabis Industry Journal details the current situation and what might be to come.
Following in the footsteps of the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire, CF Montreal shared a new logo to be incorporated during the 2023 MLS season. In early 2021, the team announced a name change from Montreal Impact to CF Montreal. The logo and brand identity was met with mixed reviews, leading to the updated version to be seen next season.
An NWSL regular season game will be played at DAYTONA Speedway. Yes, you read that correctly. As part of the DAYTONA Soccer Fest, the July 3rd Orlando Pride and Racing Louisville game will be played at a newly-built soccer field in the race track’s infield. The event will also include a performance from Chance the Rapper, as well as a legends game.
To correct gender bias and inaccurate statistics online, Heineken created a new website, Fresher Football, that provides correct responses to the most popular UEFA Champions League questions. The project seeks to encourage search engines and fan sites to amend current content in order to be inclusive of all genders.
If you’re looking for a place where football meets football this summer, look no further than Lambeau Field on July 23. The hallowed ground will play host to a friendly between FC Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
Wells Fargo has hinted at a few of its Q3 soccer plans, including the launch of four new debit card designs in partnership with the Mexican Football Federation, as well as sweepstakes offering fans a chance to see the U.S. and Mexican teams play in Qatar during the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
If you liked Clint Dempsey’s musings on CBS Sports’ coverage of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup Qualifying campaign, there’s great news. FOX Sports has reportedly added Deuce to their 2022 FIFA World Cup coverage.
Veteran U.S. Women’s National Team players Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Becky Sauerbrunn highlight the list of athletes included among the Time 100 most influential people of 2022 thanks to their fight for equal pay for USWNT players.
Curious how the Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney experiment with Wrexham AFC is going? Here is an inside look at how the investment by two Hollywood stars has turned around the fortunes of the club and its town.
According to a report released by Sports Innovation Lab, FC Barcelona is the most innovative sports team in the world. Among the top 25 teams are 10 well-known soccer brands, including a top 4 of FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arsenal, and Manchester City. To see who else is among the most-innovative teams in the world, click here to download the full report.
Amazon recently announced the latest team to be featured in its All or Nothing docuseries. The run of Lionel Messi and his Argentine teammates in the 2021 Copa America tournament will be the focus.
In news that made us smile, Howler Magazine, previously a print magazine featuring long-form soccer stories, announced it will return as a free digital-only enterprise. There are several articles already live on the site worth your time, including the story of how Clive Charles left West Ham in the 1970s and went on to become a coaching legend in the Portland soccer community.
Fresh off the heels of FIFA’s announcement of 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup host cities, U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said the federation plans to bid to host the 2027 or 2031 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The only other official competing bid for 2027 is a joint bid between Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Mexico announced it will play two friendlies in California in the final FIFA international window before the World Cup. In September, the team will play Peru at the Rose Bowl and Colombia at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
LEGO announced the addition of FC Barcelona to its Brickheadz product line – the first sports team to do so. Brickheadz have interchangeable skin tones, hair styles, and more.
St. Louis City SC – building toward their MLS debut in the 2023 season – announced the addition of local hip hop artist, Mvstermind, as the director of musical experience for the club. He will curate all the sounds fans hear at Centene Stadium.
Oakley, the sunglasses, goggles, and apparel company, announced Kylian Mbappe as its latest ambassador. The French player will showcase Oakley’s lifestyle collection and was introduced via a video – part of the “Be Who You Are” campaign – showcasing his rise to the top of the soccer world.