Kia to sponsor Europa League in rejigged model for new cycle
By Jonathan Rest
Kia Motors, the Korean car manufacturer, is to become an official partner of the Uefa Europa League in a three-season deal from 2018-19, when European soccer's secondary clubs competition will adopt a new commercial model.
As part of the partnership, Kia and Uefa will organise the first-ever Europa League Trophy Tour, taking the cup to cities around the world.
Kia, which was a sponsor of Euro 2016 in France, is the second Europa League sponsor signed up for the new cycle, with Dutch beer brewer Heineken (using its Amstel brand) already on board.
Guy-Laurent Epstein, marketing director of Uefa Events SA, said: “We have a strong relationship already with Kia Motors and look forward to further enhancing this partnership within the Uefa Europa League. We will work together to build fan engagement across Europe and beyond and we are thrilled to create the first global Trophy Tour, allowing fans around the world to meet legends of the competition and see the trophy in their own country.”
For the 2018-19 to 2020-21 period, Uefa and Team Marketing have rejigged the sponsorship model, doing away with a main partner.
FedEx, the international logistics company, is that main partner in the present cycle, and may well remain involved as one of five official partners, alongside Kia and Amstel.
Amstel, UniCredit, the Italy-based banking and financial services firm, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the USA-based car rental company, and Hankook, the Korean tyre manufacturer, are the four official partners at present.
It is the second successive cycle in which Uefa and Team have rejigged the Europa League sponsorship structure, with a main partner having replaced a presenting sponsor ahead of the 2015-16 season.
In the top-tier Champions League, Heineken is the only sponsor signed up to 2021.
Uefa and Team have also tweaked the Champions League commercial model, with eight official partner vacancies, one more than in the present cycle.
Alongside Heineken, existing Champions League sponsors are: MasterCard, the credit card company; PepsiCo, the US soft drinks and snack foods giant; Sony, the electronics behemoth; Gazprom, the Russian energy giant; Nissan, the Japanese car maker; and UniCredit.
UniCredit has already announced it will not renew its Champions League sponsorship, but has not commented on its Europa League intentions.
Team is out in the market seeking sponsors for the next cycle in the categories of financial services, automobiles, non-alcoholic beverages/snacks, technology, energy and airlines.
German sportswear giant Adidas provides the match ball to both competitions, but supplier package will shift to an official licensee from 2018-19, with a tender also out in the market.