Fare blog: Why UEFA’s new women’s football sponsorship deal is important07 December 2018

UEFAhasannouncedagroundbreakingseven-yearsponsorshipdealforwomen’sfootballwithVisa,theUSfinancialservicesmulti-national.

The agreement will run until 2025 and will see Visa become the first ever UEFA sponsor dedicated to women’s football, supporting women’s football tournaments including the Women’s Champions League, European Championships, Women’s Under-19s and U17s tournaments and the Women’s European Futsal Championship.

“The women’s game has always had tremendous value for football and the wider society, but today marks yet another milestone for women’s football and what it can offer,” said UEFA head of women’s football, Nadine Kessler.

“It proves that women’s football has truly taken on a new dimension within the commercial landscape. Visa’s commitment and excitement embodies the new heights we have reached with our sport.”

The partnership will support women’s football at all levels including UEFA’s football marketing platform Together #WePlayStrong, which is aimed at making football the number one sport among girls and women in Europe.

The sponsorship picture
Women’s football has lacked major investment and focus from sponsors. Global sport sponsorship was worth $106.8bn over the last three years, but just $427.2m was spent on women’s sport, with women’s football a small fraction of that. And the media space given to women’s football – TV, print and online – is tiny compared to that of the men’s game.

The deal is innovative because of the approach UEFA have taken in segmenting their overall sponsorship package and creating a new defined offer for sponsors.

In the past, women’s tournaments have been an add-on to the package available to sponsors of men’s tournaments. By creating a separate commercial property UEFA have given it a commercial and social value that will redefine the way women’s football is seen.

National level markets such as Germany, England and France are already planning to follow the same approach.

And as the women’s game continues to grow, broadcasters and advertisers are beginning to sit up and take notice. It used to be that the Women’s NBA in the US was the envy of football, this new development, alongside new licencing requirements requiring men’s Champions League clubs to develop women’s teams, will mean high-level football in Europe will lead women’s sport across the world.

And it can be no accident that VISA reflects a reality that is hard to find in football. A third of its European leadership team is composed of women, including CEO Charlotte Hogg. As people in the diversity field keep saying, diverse leadership leads to a different way of looking at opportunities, it leads to greater innovation.

This is an area that UEFA and most other football rights holders could do well to follow.