Visa is Uefa's first standalone sponsor of women's game
By Martin Ross
Uefa, soccer’s European governing body, has announced its first standalone sponsor for the women’s game at all levels, signing a seven-year sponsorship agreement with Visa, the worldwide credit card provider.
Visa is to become a main partner of the Uefa Women’s Champions League, the Uefa Women’s Euro, the Uefa Women’s Under-19 and Under-17 championships and the new Uefa Women’s Futsal Euro until 2025.
Last year, Uefa launched its plan to separate its women’s sponsorship packages from the men’s for the first time as part of a wider commercial overhaul of the female game in Europe.
Visa has also committed to supporting the grassroots game and backing Uefa’s ‘Together #WePlayStrong’ campaign to get more girls and women playing the sport.
Earlier this year, Uefa appointed TRM Partners, the UK-based sponsorship agency, to market its new portfolio of women’s sponsorship rights packages. In May, TRM invited sponsorship offers in the category of financial services for Uefa’s women’s competitions.
The new strategy spells an end to the previous approach of selling sponsorship packages for the men’s Champions League and the women’s Champions League final together, and bundling sponsorship rights to the women’s European Championships (and youth tournaments) with the rights to the men’s European Championships.
The project has been led by Peter Willems, Uefa’s head of marketing and sponsorship. However, the Belgian recently called time on his 13-year career at the Nyon-based body to take up the role of chief executive at OH Leuven, the second-tier Belgian club owned by King Power, the Thai travel retail group that also owns Leicester City.
Guy-Laurent Epstein, Uefa’s director of marketing, said today: “We are delighted to announce this exciting and forward-thinking partnership with Visa and look forward to working together in new and imaginative ways to accelerate the already impressive growth of women’s football.
“Together we can provide memorable experiences across all Uefa’s women’s competitions, while the partnership will help to create a unique platform to showcase our footballing heroes. This will not only help to inspire current fans of women’s football but also ensure future generations take an interest in the sport. We are pleased Visa shares our vision for a vibrant women’s game – a vision that has taken a significant step forward with the signing of our partnership agreement.”
Visa has been a top-tier Fifa sponsor since 2007 and recently became a sponsor of the Africa Cup of Nations.
As part of the sponsorship, Visa is to help drive the Together #WePlayStrong campaign through “co-branded content designed to change the image of the women’s game and make football the most played sport by women and girls in Europe.”
The campaign has been accompanied by a new digital hub for the women’s game showcasing various content, including vlogs offering insight from professional players into their daily lives.
Charlotte Hogg, chief executive officer of Visa Europe, said that it “is an exciting time for women’s football” given “21 million women and girls participate in the beautiful game across Europe.”
She added: “We are proud to announce Visa’s groundbreaking partnership with Uefa to support and accelerate the growth of women’s football throughout Europe. We want to inspire, enable and leave a legacy to girls and young women to follow their dreams. With Uefa, we plan to bring women’s football to the forefront because at Visa we believe in acceptance everywhere, from the pitch to the boardroom.”
TRM and Uefa have this year sought bids for sponsorship rights across an array of sectors, including: official match ball; automotive; soft drinks; software; airlines; personal care; office equipment; telecoms; tyres; energy; insurance; and timing.
• EDF, the French energy supplier, has become the fifth national sponsor to be signed up for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
In becoming the latest ‘National Supporter’ of the tournament, EDF joins Proman, the temporary staff agency, Arkema, the chemicals company, SNCF, the French national rail company, and the Crédit Agricole bank.
Domestic sponsors are paying an estimated €1 million ($1.14 million) apiece.
Inventory secured by EDF includes “extensive brand exposure before and during the Fifa Women’s World Cup France 2019, as well as from bespoke ticketing and hospitality packages and usage of selected Fifa marks and footage.”
Noël Le Graët, president of the local organising committee and the French Football Federation, said: “A partner of the French Football Federation for many years, EDF has joined us today to support the organisation of the Fifa Women's World Cup France 2019. With the draw just days away, this is an excellent piece of news, and we would like to welcome EDF on board as our fifth National Supporter.
“The world-renowned French group is reinforcing its firm commitment to women’s football through its participation in this major tournament.”
Philippe Le Floc’h, Fifa’s chief commercial officer, said that the line-up of national sponsors for the tournament “clearly confirms the growing interest for women’s football.”