Starting next year, Spanish football team FC Barcelona will be sponsored by Japanese retailer Rakuten, the club has announced.
The record €220 million, four-year agreement spells an end to the team’s long and sometimes rocky relationship with current shirt sponsor Qatar.
In an announcement yesterday, the team said its new agreement with Rakuten puts it “at the forefront of sports club sponsorships.”
“We hope this partnership between Rakuten and FC Barcelona brings unparalleled sporting and commercial success, and helps the club achieve its goal of being a reference point worldwide”.
Barcelona made history in 2011 after signing a deal with Qatar Sports Investment. The agreement entailed putting a paid sponsor’s logo on its shirts for the first time ever.
Following that five-year, €215 million deal, the national carrier and Barcelona recently renewed their contract for one more season.
But this was reportedly for less money than the club wanted.
The team is scheduled to play a friendly match in Qatar next month, but the status of the game is now unclear.
Barca has canceled three other previously planned appearances in the country.
Rakuten will become Barca’s first Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner for four seasons, with an option of extending the contract to a fifth season.
Beginning July 1 next year, Rakuten’s logo will be emblazoned on the team’s shirts.
However, negotiations are still underway regarding the team’s training kit and the Barça Feminina.
Rakuten will support the players and introduce new initiatives in order to showcase its technological prowess.
— Rakuten Group (@RakutenGroup) November 16, 2016
In a statement, Chairman and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said:
“This partnership opportunity is set to power our global brand strategy and, more importantly, as the Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner, we are looking to bring the collective power of our brands like Viber, Wuaki, Ebates, Kobo, PriceMinister to build a cool innovation framework that will deliver innovative solutions and services to fans, members and players.”
Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan since 1997, Rakuten is one of the world’s leading internet services companies.
The company offers a wide variety of services for consumers and businesses, with a focus on e-commerce, finance, and digital content.
Since 2012, Rakuten has also been ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the world’s most innovative companies.