Sports Ticker: Sport stars' NFTs, the 2026 World Cup hosts and a sustainable F1 partnership - a speed-read of commercial updates from the sports world
In a fortnight which saw Britvic's Robinsons and Wimbledon end their 86-year partnership and Loughborough University collaborate with FIFA on artificial pitch testing, we feature updates on England's Rugby Football League deal with Betfred, the NFT ventures of Ronaldo and Michael Owen, and the BBC's renewal of its broadcasting rights for the London Marathon.
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Cristiano Ronaldo has signed a sponsorship deal with crypto exchange Binance, becoming the latest sporting celebrity to strike a partnership with a digital assets firm, despite the issues currently grappling the sector. The first creation will be released later this year and will feature designs produced in collaboration with Ronaldo and sold exclusively on the Binance NFT platform. Commenting on the partnership, Ronaldo stated “My relationship with the fans is very important to me, so the idea of bringing unprecedented experiences and access through this NFT platform is something that I wanted to be a part of.” Another celebrity delving into NFTs is ex-England footballer Michael Owen, who recently got into hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority for a tweet the regulator considered would mislead consumers, and which suggested his NFTs were the first which “can't lose their initial value”.
The BBC has recently renewed its rights to broadcast the London Marathon for a further 5 years, with the new deal running from 2022 to 2026. The deal signifies one of the longest standing partnership in British sports, spanning across four decades, back to 1981. The Director of BBC Sport, Barbara Slater, said on the partnership “London Marathon is an iconic event…and one which we are thrilled to continue broadcasting for another five years”. Since the collaboration started, the London Marathon has become the world's biggest annual one-day fundraising event. The BBC will also cover other London Marathon Events, like the Vitality London 10,000 and the Vitality Westminster Mile on its platforms.
The partnership between McLaren and Goldman Sachs for the 2022 Formula 1 season (and beyond) aims to accelerate McLaren's progress towards its net zero goals and a more sustainable future. The partnership announcement cited an intention to combine technical and intellectual expertise to fast-track McLaren's aims towards achieving its long-term goals in line with the UN Sports for Climate Action initiative and Race to Zero campaign. McLaren's efforts have not gone unnoticed, having recently been awarded the Three Star Environmental Accreditation for the ninth year running by FIA, the motorsports governing body. Goldman Sachs branding will be featured on the McLaren MCL36 F1 cars in the 2022 British Grand Prix in Silverstone this coming weekend.
The UK-based gambling brand Betfred has signed a two-year deal which will see it become the primary partner for England men's, women's and wheelchair teams. The deal kicked-off last weekend with the mid-season internationals. Commenting on the deal, Betfred CEO Fred Done said “It’s especially exciting for us to be working with the women’s and wheelchair teams, after breaking new ground for rugby league as the first sponsors of the Women’s Super League in 2019, and now also of the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup, Wheelchair Super League and Challenge Cup. Rugby league is such an inclusive sport and it’s a great honour for us to be involved at all levels, as we look forward to the country getting behind England Rugby League”.
The 16 host cities and venues have been finalised for the 2026 men's football World Cup. It will be the first men's World Cup hosted by more than one nation since 2002, when Japan and South Korea shared the honour. Mexico will make history as the first nation to host for a third time (following 1970 and 1986), whilst the U.S. are second-time hosts (following 1994), and Canada will make its debut. The 2026 World Cup will mark the first World Cup to boast 48 qualified teams, compared to the previous 32, following a vote by FIFA in 2017. The 80 matches will be spread across the three venues, with 60 of them (including the quarterfinals, semi-finals, and finals) being spread across New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Kansas City, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. 10 of the matches will be held across Vancouver and Toronto whilst the other 10 will take place in either Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey.
…and finally, in the lead up to Wimbledon, Emma Raducanu agreed a four-year sponsorship deal with international banking group, HSBC. The partnership will see HSBC become the Raducanu's eighth sponsor, joining a number of premium brands such as Tiffany and Co, Porsche, Dior, British Airways, Vodafone, Evian and Nike. Speaking on the partnership, Raducanu said “We are working on some really cool ideas and I’m particularly looking forward to working on initiatives that help young people such as financial education”. Emma Raducanu returned to Wimbledon this month, of which HSBC is an official banking partner, following her success a year ago in getting to the last 16. Raducanu was knocked out of the second round of this year's Championships shortly before Andy Murray on centre court, with her next Grand Slam focus being the US Open in late August / early September.