Football / Soccer

Forbes featured insights from our Women In Sports Marketing Partnerships 2023–24 report, highlighting Alyssa and Gisele Thompson's aspirations to join the ranks of the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) alongside soccer greats. Their journey, marked by admiration for Alex Morgan's prowess both on and off the pitch, is a testament to the impact of sports icons on aspiring talents. Morgan—heralded for her formidable endorsement portfolio—topped SponsorUnited's list as the most-endorsed female athlete in 2022 with 27 brand deals, demonstrating the influence of sports performance and brand partnerships. In 2023, Morgan was ranked the 8th most endorsed female athlete with 19 brand deals. The Thompson sisters' transition from admiring fans to competitors and collaborators with Morgan underlines a dynamic landscape where athletes' marketability extends beyond their athletic achievements, as observed in their multifaceted partnerships with brands like Nike and BodyArmor.

The involvement of the Thompsons’ with BodyArmor, alongside their historic NIL agreement with Nike, encapsulates the evolving sponsorship arena, where athletes are increasingly recognized for their brand-building potential. This strategic partnership with BodyArmor, underscored by their commitment to the US Soccer Federation, signals a burgeoning recognition of soccer's rise in the US sports spectrum. The insights from our Women In Sports Report dives into these developments to illuminate the intricate interplay between athletes, brands, and rights holders showcasing the depth of opportunities within the sports sponsorship ecosystem. As soccer's prominence in the US continues to rise, the foresight of companies like BodyArmor in aligning with both promising talents and established stars presents a blueprint for leveraging the growing appeal of soccer to secure brand engagement and market presence.

Lionel Messi’s global-headline-making entrée into Major League Soccer (MLS) last year not only propelled the league’s profile to new heights, but also fueled substantial growth in the league's sponsorship revenue and viewership. With the 2024 MLS season having kicked off last week, let’s take a closer look at the incredible impact of the “Messi Effect.” 

The Argentinean phenom’s transfer to Inter Miami in 2023 sent MLS team sponsorship revenue soaring to a record-breaking $587M in its 28th season—a 15% increase YoY—with Financial, Healthcare, and Insurance brands leading the spend across 23 sponsorship categories.

Not surprisingly, Messi’s extraordinary influence makes him a marketing powerhouse: 52% of his 2023 partnerships were with sponsors that are active exclusively within MLS, while an incredible 81% of his deals are with brands that sponsor no other US major pro sports athletes.  

Messi's arrival also spurred a spike in the league’s viewership metrics in 2023. MLS saw an unprecedented rise in regular-season attendance to just over 22K average fans per match––a 5% increase over 2022, and the largest percentage jump since 2011––and nearly 11M total attendees for the season.

Turning to broadcast, Apple TV's MLS Season Pass service reaped huge rewards from Messi’s move. His debut match for Inter Miami on July 21 of last year was a historic moment, triggering an astounding 110K new sign-ups on that day alone––making July 2023 Apple's most successful month ever for Apple TV+ subscriptions. The MLS Season Pass subscription count more than doubled a month later, furthering the unprecedented growth trajectory. Meanwhile, an exclusive broadcast of Inter Miami vs. Atlanta United on the Apple TV platform last July saw a 75% viewership uptick versus the prior week’s exclusive broadcast.

Messi’s enormous presence in MLS also offers strategic value for Apple, enhancing the tech giant's investment in live sports content. With over 2M MLS Season Pass subscribers reported in 2023, his arrival boosted both Apple TV’s and the league’s bottom lines, and markedly enhanced MLS' global appeal and sponsorship assets, including jersey patches and digital media exposure. Apple TV’s spike in social media activity––generating more than 14M engagements in co-branded posts with Messi in the last 12 months, nearly double the brand’s overall engagement in 2022––underscores his unparalleled ability to engage fans and attract diverse brands, including the wide array of consumer products that dominate advertising on "MLS on Apple TV." As Messi embarks upon his first full season in MLS, watch this space for more news as the league enters a thrilling new era of sponsorship and viewership growth. 

Discover more from the 2023 MLS season in our MLS Marketing Partnerships 2023 Report, and tune in to the 2024 MLS season on Apple TV to see which brands are making their MLS debut.

The article featured in American Banker highlights the strategic partnership between Brazilian fintech Inter&Co and Orlando City SC, marking a significant moment for both the company and the sports industry. Inter&Co's naming rights to the Orlando stadium underscore its ambition to expand its presence in the US and tap into a diverse and youthful audience. This move not only enhances brand recognition for the fintech company, but also opens avenues for community engagement through financial education and co-branded financial products. The collaboration is seen as a pioneering effort for Latin American financial institutions in the US sports arena, with potential benefits extending beyond traditional marketing strategies.

Bob Lynch, founder and CEO of SponsorUnited, acknowledges the significance and rarity of Inter&Co's sponsorship deal with the Orlando soccer stadium. The move is authentic and strategic as its choice of a soccer partnership can be partially accredited to the sports growing popularity in the US, and its cost-effectiveness compared to other major pro sports. Lynch also notes the growing trend of financial services firms sponsoring Major League Soccer venues—28% of all venue deals in the MLS—citing the diverse and young audience these sponsorships attract. Prior to their move to venue naming rights, the brand secured a deal in 2023 with Orlando City SC and NYCFC. This move by Inter&Co is highlighted as a breakthrough moment for the company's US expansion.

Without a doubt, 2023 has been a year for the books for Major League Soccer, a league whose arguably unrivaled momentum has grown exponentially since its 1996 founding. The sky’s-the-limit tone of MLS’ blockbuster 2023 season was set late last year, with the announcement of Apple’s groundbreaking 10-year, $2.5B global partnership with the league, which kicked off in February and allows fans to stream every MLS match through the AppleTV app.

While the deal underscored MLS’ burgeoning clout in the pro sports landscape, Inter Miami’s signing of Argentine superstar and eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi in July—arguably the biggest coup in professional soccer in recent memory—was a literal game-changer for the league. Besides the immediate impact of the “Messi Effect”—his debut drew the largest single channel audience for a soccer match on linear television since 2004, while Inter Miami’s social media following exploded nearly 800% to 26M—his arrival elevated the league to new heights overnight, cementing its position as arguably the pro sports league to watch worldwide, whose future potential—given its global audience of 5B fans, and counting—seems literally boundless.

Attendance and average team valuation—up 27% and 85% since 2019, respectively—set new records this season. But it’s the unparalleled consumer demographics of the league’s ever-expanding audience that has brands across an array of industries piling on at a breakneck pace. With an average age of 37.4, MLS boasts the youngest, most diverse fan base in North American sports—67% of which are Gen Zers and Millennials, 77% are digitally native, and 31% are Hispanic. MLS counted 33 league-level sponsors in 2023, including 10 that came aboard in the past year. In February, adidas, the league’s most tenured sponsor, extended its partnership through 2030—making it the apparel company’s longest-ever investment in North American sports.

Currently, brands from 23 categories are active MLS partners, driving team sponsorship revenue up 15% to nearly $590M in 2023—a number that’s sure to climb further in the run-up to North America’s hosting of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will spotlight pro soccer’s dazzling ascent in the US like never before.

As the sport’s dynamism continues to surprise and dazzle fans everywhere, we’re excited to present our 2023 MLS Marketing Partnerships Report. Jointly authored by SponsorUnited’s Marketing, Research & Insights, and Analytics departments, it encompasses more than 800 brands, 2,200 sponsorship deals, and over 23,000 sponsorship assets from February 1st  2023 through November 10th, 2023.

View our full press release:

European football jersey sponsors have long belonged to one of the sport’s most rarefied–and lucrative—clubs. The game’s global appeal, enormous team fan bases, and arguably unmatched exposure that shirt sponsorships offer—often worth hundreds of millions annually—makes them a can’t-lose marketing proposition for brands able and willing to pay the hefty price tag. 

Heading into the 2023-24 season across the five major European leagues, 26 clubs have debuted a new primary jersey sponsor this year. Serie A clubs represent 30% of the new sponsorships. Meanwhile, Arsenal and UAE airline Emirates extended their jersey partnership this month—as did six other clubs and their respective sponsors, including fellow Premier League squads Luton Town and Wolverhampton—with a five-year deal worth a reported $63.9 million per season, a 25% increase over its prior agreement.

Speaking of Emirates, its Real Madrid primary jersey patch is the world’s most expensive sponsorship asset: the airline pays €70M ($76.5M) per year for its logo to appear on the Spanish team’s jersey. With four deals, the deep-pocketed brand has the most primary jersey patch deals across Europe’s top five leagues. Open opportunities in this coveted asset class still abound, as many prominent teams like Chelsea, Sevilla, and Roma have yet to announce a shirt sponsor this season.

Adidas, Nike, and Puma lead the list of kit suppliers in the top five European leagues with 15, 14, and 12 teams, respectively. Umbro, Joma, and Castore take the next three spots: Umbro partners with eight teams, and Joma and Castore with seven each.

The nearly century-old English brand Umbro sponsors the most teams in the Premier League with five, including Bournemouth, Brentford, and West Ham United. Adidas dominates La Liga with four teams, including Real Madrid, which holds the most Champions League titles. In Serie A, Kappa and Joma outfit three teams each, including Fiorentina and Atalanta, respectively. Nike is the Bundesliga’s most popular kit supplier with four teams, Eintracht Frankfurt and RB Leipzig among them. Puma and adidas lead Ligue 1 kit sponsor with three team deals apiece.

The market for European football jersey sponsorships is ever-evolving, as new brands enter the fray and existing sponsors grow their investment while football’s seemingly unstoppable momentum continues to capture legions of new fans worldwide. Watch this space: as the commercialization of the world’s favorite sport continues and the next wave of wealthy owners vie for a piece of the action, odds are there will be plenty of surprises to come on the sponsorship front. 

With more than 3.5 billion fans worldwide, football is the world’s most popular sport–and Europe’s “Big Five” professional leagues comprise its dynamic epicenter, showcasing the game’s dazzling appeal and momentum better than anywhere else on earth.

Record attendance in the 2022-2023 season tells the story. An average 40,267 fans turned out to watch England’s Premier League this year, a new all-time high–which was edged out only by Germany’s Bundesliga, which reported highest attendance of all European football leagues, with an average of over 43,000 fans flocking to stadiums. Attendance in Spain’s LaLiga also increased to more than 11 million, while France’s Ligue 1 set its own record at just over 9.05 million. Finally, Italy’s Serie A posted its best figures since the turn of the century, as an average 29,495 fans headed through stadium gates.

And revenues are following suit. In the 2021-22 season, the Big Five generated record aggregate revenues of $18.1 billion, according to Deloitte–outperforming the pre-pandemic benchmark of $17.9 billion set in 2018-19. While the numbers aren’t in yet, it’s a safe bet that the 2022-2023 season will set yet another new record.

As revenue grows, so do partnership price tags–like adidas’s deal with Manchester United announced late last month, which will see the German powerhouse extend its jersey collaboration with the team to the tune of $115 million a year through 2035–a Premier League record.

Against this backdrop, sponsorships are also evolving, as brands and teams look to innovate in the face of ever-growing audiences and shifting demographics. They’re becoming more customised and multifaceted, with singular activations, a burgeoning emphasis on social media engagement, and a nod to social issues like sustainability and gender equity–and connecting with more fans than ever before in the process.  

European football itself is changing dramatically too, as challenger leagues like MLS and SPL lure global superstars like Messi and Ronaldo to new markets–creating unprecedented marketing opportunities around the globe in the process.

For all these reasons and more, we’re excited to unveil the European Football Report 2022-23. Authored jointly by SponsorUnited’s Marketing Research & Insights, Analytics and Marketing teams, it delivers an in-depth analysis of more than 3,500 brands, 200 athletes, and nearly 44,000 social posts between July 10, 2022 and July 15, 2023.

The hotly anticipated FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, which kicks off on July 20 in Auckland, has the potential to become the most attended standalone women’s sporting event in history—an indisputable indicator of the dazzling momentum of women’s soccer.

The numbers tell the story. The 2019 tournament saw a combined 1.12 billion viewers, with an average match viewership draw of almost 17.5 million–double the numbers from 2015. The final matchup—the USA vs. the Netherlands—was the most-watched game in the tournament’s history, peaking at nearly 264 million unique viewers. On the back of this resounding success, ticket sales for this year’s tournament had already surpassed one million by early June.

Not surprisingly, this year’s sponsors are pulling out all the stops in anticipation. Visa—which became the first global FIFA women’s soccer partner in 2021, and will serve as the World Cup’s exclusive payment service partner this year—has added 33 athletes representing 27 countries to its roster of sponsored players. Unilever has signed on to sponsor FIFA’s women’s development program with additional funding and other support—marking the first time the organization has partnered with personal care brands across its women’s, men’s, and esports competitions.

These brands are poised to reap big returns on their investment. According to global consultancy Kantar, 50% of fans would go out of their way to support brands that sponsor women’s sports—which trends higher for Gen Z at 63% and Millennials at 66%. All of which is music to the ears of players like American superstar Alex Morgan and Swiss phenom Alisha Lehmann, who are racking up endorsements and social media followers at a pace that rivals some of the world’s highest-profile male pro athletes.

Speaking of, the ongoing push for pay parity in pro sports is also reflected in this year’s matchup, where the prize pool stands at $110 million, compared to $30 million in 2019. While just 25% of the $440 million awarded at last year’s FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar, this whopping 367% increase constitutes a sizable step in the right direction–and hints at even bigger and better things to come for both women’s soccer, and women’s athletics as a whole.

Authored jointly by SponsorUnited’s Marketing Research & Insights, Analytics, and Marketing teams, it delivers an in-depth analysis of more than 230 brands, over 120 athletes, and nearly 905 social posts between July 1, 2022 and July 1, 2023.

As the hotly anticipated 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup gets ready to kick off July 20 in Australia and New Zealand, brands continue to raise their profiles and build their female athlete roster by joining forces with women’s soccer stars.

Take USWNT veteran Alex Morgan–the US squad’s all-time leading scorer, two-time World Cup champion, and Olympic gold medalist. She leads the list of FIFA Women’s World Cup athletes as most endorsed players with 17 partnerships, including deals with Michelob Ultra and Molecule Sleep.

Notably, Morgan was featured in Michelob Ultra’s Super Bowl LVII campaign ahead of the big game this past February. We can expect (and will be tracking) crossover athletes and their brand sponsors to launch campaigns and promote new products—alongside social and onsite activations—before and during the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Spanish team captain, Alexia Putellas, trails Morgan with 12 sponsorships, Amazon Prime Video and Hublot among them. Canadian phenom Kaila Novak–who’s played for her national team since age 15–and Crystal Dunn tie for third place with 10 deals each.

As one of the world’s most-watched sporting events with more than 1B viewers, the FIFA Women’s World Cup offers brands a virtually unrivaled opportunity to reach fans across the globe. Three blue-chip brands–Nike, Visa and adidas–comprise the top triumvirate of sponsors going all-in on women’s soccer. The world’s most valuable sportswear brand has been a longtime supporter, boasting 29 partnerships with some of the game’s biggest names, including Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Sam Kerr.

Meanwhile, Visa has vastly expanded its sponsorship stable to 24 deals–with Lucy Bronze and Kosovare Asliani, among others–from just 10 last year, while longtime sponsor adidas partners with 20 female players, along with the German and Spanish squads.

Emerging brands in nascent industries, like MATCHDAY, are also staking a claim in the sport as its popularity and profile soar. The blockchain-based gaming platform now has five partnerships with women soccer players, having inked four in the past 12 months, including back-to-back Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas. Just before the 2022 World Cup, all MATCHDAY-sponsored players posted a “MATCHDAY Challenge” picture on Instagram, inviting their followers to predict the tournament results, engaging 136K of them in the process. Look for a similar social campaign launch from MATCHDAY featuring even more female soccer standouts as the tourney begins next month.

The 2023 UEFA Champions League Final took place last Saturday at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, where Manchester City’s Rodri scored in the 68th minute to defeat Inter Milan 1–0, leading the team to its first Champions League title. Man City’s victory marked a deserving end to an impressive season, as the squad captured the treble after winning the Premier League title with 93 points, along with the FA Cup final against city rivals Manchester United.

Arrival At Istanbul

SponsorUnited was on the ground in Turkey’s most celebrated city to attend different stages of the Champions League Final. On our flight to Istanbul, we saw in-flight activations, including Turkish Airlines boarding passes bearing the UEFA Champions League “Road to Istanbul” graphic, and screens displaying the Champions League stadium background. We passed through the Turkish Airlines-branded archway upon arrival, which led to an exhibition full of Champions League Final memorabilia, broadcasts of past championship highlights, and other interactive experiences designed to engage fans.

Various activations by UEFA Champions League sponsors took center stage throughout the colorful city, including static billboards by MasterCard lining the streets, as well as subways and buses–where Pepsi and Ruffles unveiled huge activations in subway corridors, at bus stops, and on bus screens. In another inventive activation, Turkish Airlines conducted a Twitter poll, asking fans to predict the Champions League Final winner, with the chosen team’s colors to be displayed on three city bridges. Manchester City won handily with 59% of the vote; soon after, its signature, sky blue hues glowed against the Istanbul skyline prior to the match, where the team would again prevail.

Fan Festival

At the UEFA Champions League Fan Festival –which we visited before the game– Turkish Airlines activations included a giant foosball table, virtual penalty kicks, a flight simulator, and a Miles & Smiles quiz machine (named for the carrier’s loyalty program) that posed Turkish Airlines-related questions, with the chance to collect Miles & Smiles rewards. Fan Festival sponsor FedEx let fans take pictures with 3-D representations of “model players” like Messi, Ronaldo, Bale, and Gerrard scoring iconic goals during previous Final matchups, and also build a Champions League cardboard ball.

Heineken established its presence through dedicated Heineken Beer Gardens scattered throughout the festival grounds as well as the Heineken Star Bar where ice-cold beverages were sold. debuted a fan booth where fans were rewarded with a free add-on Fan Token, incredible prizes, and interactive experiences like the Header Challenge and Shot Radar. The booth’s list of rewards included tickets to the UCL Final, an autographed shirt by Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martínez, signed boots by Man City striker Erling Haaland, and UEFA Champions League merchandise. Meanwhile, Expedia Live created a multi-sensory fan experience, taking visitors on a journey through past UEFA Champions League finals and their host cities to showcase why “Nothing beats being there”–Expedia’s UEFA campaign slogan. Fans also had a chance to win tickets to the 2024 UEFA Champions League Final in London.

PepsiCo unveiled a series of innovative and sustainable food & beverage practices. At the Fan Festival they handed out their product with reusable, biodegradable Pepsi-Cups –supporting the goal of making UEFA Champions League Finals “Zero Waste to Landfill” by 2026, through its brands – Pepsi, Lay’s, Doritos and Gatorade.

Mastercard created a magic mirror activation where fans aimed virtual balls at targets inside the goal for the chance to win a prize. Elsewhere, adidas’ activation featured a giant UCL ball and player jerseys from the “Legends Match,” a four-team tournament featuring UEFA Champions League legends, held on June 9th at the fan festival and broadcast by Turkish subscription streaming service, Exxen.

Soon after, guests and employees of the UEFA Champions League sponsors made their way to the Atatürk Olympic Stadium. At the exclusive Champions Village, Oppo invited select fans and brand ambassador Kaká. Those invited were given the opportunity to pose for photos under the scoreboard and play against Kaká in the Oppo kick-up challenge. Pepsico’s “Pep-City” tent also offered pre-game refreshments, as did Just Eat Takeaway and various other official sponsors of UEFA Champions League.

Pepsi Kick-Off Show & Game

Getting closer to kick-off time, the Champions League Trophy was presented by FedEx and arrived at the stadium in a FedEx truck, delivered by a FedEx courier. The Pepsi Kick-Off Show, which took place just before gametime, featured performances by Brazilian singer Anitta and Nigerian producer Burna Boy (both of whom have deals with Pepsi), as well as special guest DJ Alesso. Pepsi, as presenting sponsor of the Kick Off show was the only sponsor with video board and LED-signage while also having TV broadcast presence around the world.

As one of the world’s most watched sporting events, the final was broadcasted across more than 97 countries, with all the sponsors having broadcast presence. Lays presented the game in the US on TUDN, while Oppo had split screen commercial on Sony Liv in India. Local US sponsors Expedia and Grubhub signage was digitally overlayed for US broadcasts only. Right after the game, the PlayStation Player of the Match award was handed out by Liza Zimouche (endorsed by PlayStation), a French freestyle footballer. The event concluded with a post-game press conference where all Official Sponsors were visible as well as Gatorade and adidas through product placement.

Former FC Barcelona star, Gerard Piqué, recently launched an ambitious–and potentially groundbreaking–post-retirement project: Kings League Infojobs, a new seven-a-side, Spanish football league established in December 2022. Piqué selected 12 partners, called “presidents” (high-profile digital content creators and other former football athletes, including Iker Casillas and Kun Agüero), to build their own teams from the ground up–from creating names and logos to hiring management and technical staff.

One especially high-profile president, influencer Ibai Llanos–a Spanish internet celebrity and renowned esports caster known simply as “Ibai,” whose events hold worldwide streaming records–heads up league club Porcinos FC. The league is leveraging Llanos’ massive following (more than 9M on Instagram alone)–along with the followings of its other presidents–to grow its viewership.

This strategy is proving wildly successful so far. The Kings League has already drawn legions of viewers since its inaugural season kicked off on January 1, 2023, helped in part by an appearance by Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho in the 8th “journey” (weekly game day, in Kings League parlance, aka "matchday"). In January alone, the league racked up 238M views on TikTok, while the league’s Twitch account drew the platform’s highest average number of viewers worldwide the same month.

Kings League rules differ from traditional football regulations, with the goal of adding dynamism to the game via tactics including a tie-breaker penalty shootout, unlimited substitutions, and special "secret weapons” (detailed below).

Anyone who wants to play for the league–from influencers to athletes, and everyone in between–can apply by submitting an application and video. Kings League then selects 200 players and holds a draft, where presidents and their coaches make their picks.

Rules & Regulations

  • Kings League matches are held every Sunday from 4:00pm-10:00pm Central European Time (CET), and span 40 minutes divided into two halves.
  • At the conclusion of the 11-journey regular season–which lasts just 3 months–the eight best teams proceed to the playoffs, which will culminate in a Final Four on March 26 at Camp Nou (FC Barcelona Stadium).
  • There are 2 seasons per year; May 2023 begins this year’s second season.
  • Before every match, each coach chooses an envelope containing a “secret weapon” (arma secreta in Spanish) that provides a playing advantage, which can be used once per game. The 20 “secret weapon” cards include the following advantages, among others:
  • Double goal (6): For 2 minutes, goals scored will count as two.
  • Penalty from the center (4): A penalty kick from midfield–1-on-1 striker against the goalkeeper, with no rejection possible.
  • Wild card (1): Can be used as a wild card to play any of the other cards.
  • Piqué (1): Gerard Piqué will join the team as a player for that match.
  • At the 18th minute of the first half, a “League Card” is drawn that changes the number of players on the field (1vs1, 2vs2, 3vs3, 4vs4, or 5vs5) for the half’s last two minutes.
  • There are no draws; if teams are tied at the match’s end, a penalty shootout decides the winner.
  • In the starting kickoff, both teams must be on their goals until the countdown ends, and then run to take the ball at midfield.

On May 6, the Kings League will launch Queens League Oysho, named for the Spanish clothing retailer that’s its title sponsor. A women’s league with the same rules and format, its debut–to be played in tandem with the Kings League’s second season, with games held on Saturday–will help to further fuel the momentum of women’s football worldwide. 

League Sponsors

Kings League sponsors activate during matches via rotating billboards, product placement, and halftime challenges, among other assets. Each team can also sign its own sponsors, whose logos can be placed on the players’ jersey sleeves and shorts. Along with the weekly journey recap, “AfterKings,” broadcast Mondays on YouTube and Twitch–the league’s streaming partner–team presidents can stream their games on their preferred platforms, showcasing team sponsors with a product placement or digital billboard/logo activation.

INFOJOBS: The Kings League’s exclusive naming partner and primary jersey patch partner of all 12 teams, Europe’s leading career network brand also sponsors KOI, the esports team cofounded by Ibai.

Simyo: Marking one of its first forays into sports sponsorships, the Spanish telecom company ranks among the league’s main sponsors, whose assets include the “Simyo MVP” award.  

McDonald’s: To promote McDelivery, its delivery services brand, McDonald’s sponsorships in Spain span sports including football (Mirandes), basketball (Cazoo Baskonia), and esports (Movistar Riders), as well as out-of-home advertising worldwide. Within the Kings League, the fast food titan sponsors event-related content including the countdown to matches’ kickoff, and runs a banner ad on Twitch, the league’s streaming partner.

Grefusa: The Spanish food products manufacturer ranks among the league’s main sponsors, and also sponsors its referees. Active in the streaming market, the snack brand also sponsors Ibai’s events, as well as Team Heretics, an esports team.

XiaoMI: An active sponsor of football properties–including the Mexican and Finnish national federations–as well as music festivals and esports teams, the Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer is one of the league’s main partners and its VAR (Instant Replay) sponsor. The brand’s logo also features on the back of all team jerseys.

CUPRA: The Spanish carmaker’s many sponsorships include the World Padel Tour, FC Barcelona, tennis events like the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, and KOI, Ibai’s esports club. As the Kings League Stadium Sponsor, the brand’s cars are displayed outside of CUPRA Arena, the league’s home.

Spotify: Hot on the heels of a landmark July 2022 deal with FC Barcelona that named the music streaming giant Main Partner and Official Audio Streaming Partner of the club–and saw the team’s stadium rebranded Spotify Camp Nou–the brand seized the opportunity to get in on the ground level of FC Barcelona alum Piqué’s newest venture, sponsoring the Kings League “secret weapon” cards.

The 2023 MLS season kicked off last Saturday (2/25) with big news: not only did the league just announce a $2.5B blockbuster broadcasting deal with Apple TV, but it’s also welcoming a new franchise–St. Louis City SC, which will face off against Austin FC in the team’s inaugural home match this Saturday. In honor of the city’s place in the pro sports spotlight this weekend, let’s take a closer look at the sponsorship landscape in the Gateway City.

St. Louis offers sponsorship opportunities across various avenues from 3 major pro sports teams (MLB, MLS, NHL), to colleges, marathons, and festivals (just to name a few). With 9 deals, Budweiser leads the list of brands actively buying sponsorships in Missouri’s 2nd-biggest city and the 26th largest market in the US by population. It comes at no surprise the AB brand leads STL in deals since the city is also the brand’s official HQ. In terms of traditional media (TV & radio only), midwest-based home improvement company Menards, leads the way with 13 deals, trailed by broadband connectivity giant Spectrum with 11. Brands active in the St. Louis market favor purchasing in-venue assets with the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues.

Ahead of its first home match, St. Louis City partnered with Together Credit Union as the team’s Official Debit Card, SeatGeek as primary and secondary Ticketing Partner, and Nestlé Purina PetCare as Jersey Patch sponsor.

With a combined following of 7.1M, the Cardinals and Blues dominate the “Gateway to the West” social space. The Cardinals engaged 470K fans with more than 130 sponsorship deals during the 2022 season, followed closely by the Blues with 450K engagements and north of 115 partnerships this season. Notable social standouts in the St. Louis market include former Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and pitcher Adam Wainwright.

While luxury car brands are active in the NHL–Lexus, for example, sponsors 13 league franchises–however the Blues currently lack a high-end auto partner, as do the Cardinals. Another semi-conspicuous absence in their respective endorsement portfolios: FinTech, a category where 33 brands have sponsorship deals with major pro sports teams, but not one in St. Louis. The Blues have a TV deal with 5-Hour Energy, one of 18 energy drink brands with a media or sponsorship deal in the big leagues. Time will tell if an official energy drink sponsor lies in the team’s future.

World Cup Final

December 18, 2022

As the players get ready to take the pitch for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final, we compare the two team's brand portfolio and social game.

During the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the concept of “Fan Fest” was replaced by the "Fan Festival" concept.

FIFA’s plan was to reintroduce the Fan Fest as a more diverse and inclusive entertainment offering encompassing a wide variety of cultures, art, music, food and football outside the stadiums. The concept will also be rolled out during the Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

On December 4, the FIFA Fan Festival celebrated the 1 millionth visitor milestone across all of the Fan Festivals this year.

For this years World Cup, FIFA approved Fan Festival sites

  • BudX Fan Festivals in London, Seoul and Dubai
  • Corona Fan Festival in Mexico City, Mexico
  • Brahma Fan Festivals in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro
  • Coca-Cola Fan Festival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Doha, Qatar, a non sponsored festival

Some of the Fan Festival activations:

  • Interactive physical and digital football game stations
  • Sponsored activations
  • Appearances from FIFA Legends
  • Official stores with licensed World Cup merchandise.
  • Content within the FIFA+ streaming platform.
  • A hat and cup from Budweiser for fans who attended the event in London, and an opportunity to win an England shirt signed by a football legend.
  • In London, Budweiser gave fans the opportunity to win an England signed shirt by a football legend.
  • An adidas-sponsored fan activation in Mexico where attendees played Teqball, a football-based sport played on a specially curved table within a designated area.
  • adidas also gave away little footballs before, during, and after games. After all games ended, the event host would throw 5 adidas balls into the crowd.
  • Coca-Cola branding across all of the table football (foosball tables) at the event in Mexico City.

Thanks to a new licensing model FIFA introduced in 2022, existing and future FIFA partners can launch local Fan Festivals in major cities outside the host countries to make the tournament experience more accessible for the global fan community.

  • SponsorUnited was in attendance at the festivals in London, Mexico City, Dubai and will be going to Doha on December 17th.

There’s no denying the seemingly unstoppable momentum of Major League Soccer, as evidenced by the fact that brands spent a record $461M in sponsorships across MLS clubs this year. Let’s take a look at three reasons behind this new benchmark.

The number of brands sponsoring MLS increased by roughly 25% in the last three years.A few factors fueled MLS sponsorships’ growth, starting with the addition of six league-level sponsors this year: Avant, IHG, Socios, Sorare, Doordash, and Caterpillar. Meanwhile, the Alcohol, Media and Technology categories added the most brands during the 2022 season.

Digital assets grew within MLS venues.Digital advertising in MLS increased more than 18% in 2022 across 13 different digital asset classes. The video board reigned supreme, as more than 500 brands utilized it this season—a 20% rise over last year.

adidas and Continental Tire remained the most active brands–followed by, which aims to become MLS’ next long-term partner.adidas, the league’s longest tenured partner at 26 years, and 12-year partner Continental Tire both have sponsorships with every MLS team. A newcomer this season, fan engagement platform became both an official MLS partner and Official Fan Loyalty Partner of 26 MLS clubs–signaling its serious long-term sponsorship plans within the league.

Brands Spend a Record $461M in Sponsorships Across Major League Soccer Clubs in 2022.Technology and Utilities categories topped the sponsorship growth chart, accounting for 15% of new brand sponsors.

The MLS 2022 Marketing Partnerships Report analyzes 1,750 partnership deals across the league, clubs and athletes during the 2022 season. The report uncovered that $461 million in club sponsorship revenue was generated across 1,300 unique brands. The beverage-alcohol category and media brands topped the charts with the most active brands.

Key findings from the report include:

Sporting KC, Philadelphia Union and Austin FC attract nearly 100 brand deals eachAll three clubs exceeded 90 sponsorship deals for the 2022 season, eclipsing the league average of 62. Sporting KC leads in terms of deal volume, with new partners including Don Neron Tequila,, Google Fiber, and Compass Minerals, its new front jersey partner. Austin FC quickly surpassed all other MLS clubs in terms of sponsorship category diversity in just its second season.

U.S. World Cup player DeAndre Yedlin of Inter Miami CF leads with the most new brand collaborations this yearReturning to the MLS this year after a 7-year hiatus, DeAndre Yedlin has inked five brand endorsements this season. Yedlin partnered with three league sponsors–Heineken, Audi, and DoorDash–in addition to Quaker State and Captain Morgan. LAFC player Giorgio Chiellini took the lead in endorsements with 18, and the number of branded social posts with 28.

Cryptocurrency and FinTech propelled Finance to the top of 2022’s list of most searched categoriesCrypto sponsorship deals within MLS quintupled to five from just one last year. Cryptocurrency was the most searched financial category within the SponsorUnited platform as more than 250 cryptocurrency brands worldwide were searched, with Coinbase,, and eToro leading the way.

International and domestic brands ramp up activations with MLSFor the 2022 season, MLS gained six new league partners: Avant, IHG,, Sorare, Doordash and Caterpillar. Brands like the Japanese beverage company Asahi tapped into the North America market for the first time through MLS, in addition international brands including Volkswagen, Bermuda Tourism Authority, and Inter&Co. The five most active brands among the league and individual athletes include Heineken (785 social posts), Audi (658 posts), BodyArmour (618 posts), Bank of Montreal (403 posts) and Delta (390 posts).

“MLS continues to impress with its increasing popularity, game attendance, and sponsorships, propelling the league to be the fastest growing in the world,” said Bob Lynch, Founder and CEO of SponsorUnited. “It's clear to see how MLS franchise median value grew 5x more than other U.S. pro leagues through new investments made from companies like DoorDash, as well as continued support from brands like Adidas, who has been a league partner for the past 26 years. It’s an exciting time for MLS and I'm looking forward to seeing the continued momentum.”


This report was compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform data from January 15, 2022, through November 8, 2022. Social data compiled from property or person-controlled Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn accounts and social activity.

The much anticipated USA vs England FIFA World Cup match begins in just a few hours. Take a look at some of the new and extended partnerships brands have activated across both teams.


11/16, Legends Partnership Extended with USALess than a week before the USMT's first World Cup game of 2022 vs. Wales, Legends announced a partnership extension with the U.S. Soccer Federation. The new multi-year agreement builds on a previous four-year partnership to keep Legends as the provider for all U.S. Soccer Store experiences both online and at events. New objectives of this agreement include future plans to implement an elevated version of the Visa Fan Studio, a mobile unit that can be stationed at U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team matches.

11/7, U.S. Soccer and Volkswagen announce partnership extensionAlmost a month before the start of the FIFA World Cup, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced a multi-year partnership extension with Volkswagen. The extension follows the German manufacturers continued growth of electric vehicles, including the ID.4 SUV and upcoming ID. Buzz. New efforts for the partnership include a focus on sustainability and electrification, as U.S. Soccer and Volkswagen will team up to work towards actionable sustainability initiatives and encouraged EV adoption.

11/3, Anheuser-Busch singed a multi-year sponsorship extension with U.S. SoccerThe longest strategic partner of the U.S. Soccer Federation, Anheuser-Busch, announced a partnership renewal that builds off the pre-existing 35-year relationship. The extension includes Kickoff Parties before select World Cup matches that include live entertainment, giveaways, and guest appearances from influencers and alumni. Matt Davis, the Head of Sports Marketing of Anheuser-Busch, focused on supporting the continued growth of the U.S. soccer's growing fanbase.


5/30, Nuffled Health announced new partnership with the England FAAs part of a five-year partnership, Nuffled Health was announced as the FA's Official Health and Wellbeing Partner. The partnership aims to improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities through the mental and physical benefits brought by the game of football.

5/23, Marks & Spencer (M&S) announced new joint partnership with England FA and moreTo help promote the brand's food division, M&S tapped England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland FA as part of a joint partnership. The campaign began in July, and includes both physical inventory and content integrations featuring star players from the country's national team rosters.

The 22nd FIFA World Cup kicked off yesterday with Qatar vs. Ecuador, where Ecuador won over the host country 2-0. The month-long event–whose sponsors include adidas, Coca-Cola, Visa, and Qatar Airways, among others–will showcase the world's best players in a blockbuster broadcast event that FIFA estimates will draw an audience of over 5B viewers worldwide.

Stars like Alphonso Davies and Sergiño Dest will strive to shine, while storied veterans Lionel Messi and Ronaldo will aim to end their storied careers with a bang in their last World Cup appearance. We compiled the following roundup of the most sponsored athletes in the competition, in order of number of deals.

Neymar Jr

The Brazilian Paris Saint-Germain powerhouse has hinted that this year’s tournament–his third–may be his last. His sponsorship stable includes a whopping 36 brands, among them Puma, Netflix, Qatar Airways, Red Bull, Facebook Gaming, and Pokerstars. Red Bull, Neymar’s partner since 2016, is the main sponsor of his Five, the world’s largest five-a-side football tournament. Neymar’s deal with Puma–reportedly the largest individual sports sponsorship in history–earns him a reported $30M per year. His social media numbers reflect his mega-stardom: with a cumulative social following of over 340M followers, Neymar posted 127 times, engaging within the last 12 months more than 71M and averaging an impressive engagement of 3.6M per brand and 405.5K per post.

Lionel Messi

With this year’s appearance, Messi and Ronaldo will join an exclusive club--which currently includes just four other players–to have played in five World Cup tournaments. The Argentine legend’s 25 deals include Adidas–a lifetime contract that pays him a reported $25M per year–Budweiser, Pepsi, Lay’s, Gatorade, and Konami. He’s also the only athlete to have a deal with Cirque du Soleil.

With over 510M followers, Messi has become a social media marvel, posting 61 times in the last 12 months for a total engagement of nearly 150M, and averaging an astonishing 8.7M per brand and 1.3M per post. Messi’s 8 Adidas posts alone garnered engagement of 18.6M. The Argentinian phenom posted 11 times in 2022 for his premium lifestyle brand, The Messi Store (total followers:1.5M), engaging 16.5M fans.

Cristiano Ronaldo

This year’s tournament marks the fifth and final World Cup appearance of the Manchester United megastar, whose 21 partnerships include Nike, Clear, Binance, Herbalife, LiveScore, and Therabody. Sponsored by Nike since 2003, he signed a lifetime contract with the Swoosh in a deal worth a reported $1B. Ronaldo’s unrivaled global reach–he’s the most prolific person in the world on social media, with a total following of close to 760M–allows him to sign slews of exclusive deals, like his partnership with Talabat, a food delivery service company in the UAE.

With 496M followers on Instagram alone, his engagement numbers–a staggering 180M this year across 69 sponsored posts, averaging 12.8M per brand and 1.8M per post–eclipse all players on this list. Ronaldo 7 posts for his clothing and fragrance brand, CR7, garnered engagement of 41.3M, while his 5 posts for Nike scored 25.4M. Ronaldo also owns his own lifestyle hotel called Pestana CR7, with locations in New York, Madrid, Lisbon, Marrakech, Funchal, and his native Madeira.

Son Heung-min

The South Korean star of the Tottenham Hotspurs will make his third World Cup appearance in Qatar, entering the tournament with 14 deals: Adidas, Calvin Klein, Gillete, EA Sports, Tiger Beer, Republic of Gamers, NFTStar, Volvo, Tumi, OpenSea, SK Telecom, Korean Tourism Organization, Cartier, and Gentle Monster.

The only European football athlete sponsored by Volvo and Cartier, Son is Calvin Klein’s brand ambassador in South Korea, and joins Alan Walker, Loserfruit, Nyjah Huston, and Karl-Anthony Towns as a partner of gaming equipment maker, Republic of Gamers. In 2022, his 33 sponsored posts engaged 13.2M followers, with a per-brand average of 1.6M, while his 20 Adidas posts totaled 11M in engagement.

Jack Grealish

Following his monumental, $139M move from Aston Villa to Manchester City in August 2021–which broke the British signing record–Grealish will make his World Cup debut in Qatar, entering the tourney with a stacked endorsement portfolio of 12 brands: Nike, EA Sports, McDonald’s, Icons Memorabilia, Gucci, Amazon Prime Video, Panini, PlayStation, Topps, Bose and boohooMan. Grealish is one of two World Cup players, along with Serge Gnabry, to partner with Gucci, earning a reported $1.2M. The Man City megastar’s 21 sponsored posts totaled engagement of 3.1M this year, averaging 352.7K per brand.

Guillermo Ochoa

Heading into his fifth World Cup, the Mexican stalwart known as “Memo” boasts 9 deals with Xbox, Nike, Trebel Music, Expedia, Michelob Ultra, Troquer, Hugo Boss, Dolo Neurobion, and Perfumerica. Ochoa posted 42 times for the 9 brands in 2022 , totaling 1.4M in engagement. This year, Americans Christian Pulisic and Carli Llyod joined Ochoa in a TV spot for Michelob Ultra–which also partnered with designer Guillermo Andrade to create a limited-edition, unofficial World Cup jersey for fans.

Virgil Van Dijk

This year’s competition will be the Dutch Liverpool defender’s first, but the Champions League winner already has 8 brand deals--with EA Sports, Nike, JBL, Cadbury, Tundra eSports, Meta Quest, Freia, and Sponsor Thailand--thanks to his notable success at the club level. Van Dijk is one of two European football athletes--along with Mason Mount--to have a deal with JBL. Van Dijk’s sponsored engagement on social media totaled 2.7M, with an impressive 455K average per brand.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

The breakout star for Liverpool and England will compete in his second World Cup in Qatar, entering the tournament with deals with Therabody, Red Bull, Konami, WeAre8, Palo Alto Networks, Bang & Olufsen, and Under Armour, with whom he inked a multi-year deal worth a reported $2M annually. With close to 20M total followers on social media, the stellar right-back chalked up 5M in engagement and an average 628.3K per brand across 19 sponsored posts.

Alphonso Davies

The Ghana-born, 22-year-old standout will lead Canada in its first World Cup appearance since 1986. Besides Nike, Davies partners with Bank of Montreal, Topps, EA Sports, BioSteel, Crocs, Jordan Brand, and HATTRICKS, teaming up with the TK to create a digital football collectable game. Davies’ 33 sponsored social posts racked up a total engagement of nearly 2M this year.

Kevin De Bruyne

Playing in his third World Cup in 2022 the Belgian Manchester City star’s sponsor lineup includes Nike, Therabody, UFL, Balln, SecretLab, Phemex, Wow Hydrate, and Lanistar. He’s also the only athlete endorsed by AI company, Balln, and crypto platform, Phemex. With a cumulative social following of 45M, De Bruyne engaged 2.1M fans across 18 posts, averaging 314.1K per brand.

Sergiño Dest

The 22-year-old defender–on loan to AC Milan from La Liga club Barcelona–will be playing in his first World Cup for USMNT, and has deals with Nike, BioSteel, AT&T, Hugo Boss, Icons Memorabilia, and EA Sports. Dest posted 5 times on social media this year, engaging 465K followers.

With the world’s biggest quadrennial sporting event just 10 days away, SU has been capturing unique brand activations and crossover campaign insights into the longstanding partnership between FIFA and The Coca-Cola Company, a FIFA partner since 1976 and an official sponsor since 1978. Let’s take a closer look at this epic partnership:

FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola

The World Cup Trophy Tour–which kicked off in Dubai in May and included 51 countries and territories–wraps up this week in Toronto, its last stop in North America (host of the 2026 World Cup) before the trophy heads to Qatar for the hotly anticipated 2022 event, beginning November 20. For the first time ever, the tour visited all 32 countries that qualified for this year’s World Cup–bringing Coca-Cola and FIFA one step closer to their goal of visiting each of FIFA’s 211 member associations by 2030.

In another first, all activations throughout the tour were digitally led–reducing waste and minimizing consumption of water, energy, and materials at each stop–in a nod to the beverage giant’s wide-ranging sustainability efforts.

SponsorUnited was on the ground for the tour’s stop in Dallas earlier this week. The seamless, two-day event proved to be a terrific experience for fans, who enjoyed activities including fast-feet interactive games and foosball. At Coke Ink Studio, they could get “inked” with temporary tattoos of Coke cans bearing promises they’d make if the US wins the World Cup, part of the company’s sprawling “Believing Is Magic” campaign (detailed below). Other fan favorites: a photo opp with the trophy, sponsored by Coca-Cola, as well as a chance to create a Panini trading card with a selfie.  

“Believing Is Magic”Campaign

To inspire fans worldwide to share the commitments they make in support of their favorite teams, Coca-Cola unveiled the “Believing is Magic” campaign in September, spotlighting authentic moments of connection between fans, and the beliefs, rituals, and promises inherent in World Cup fandom. In keeping with Coca-Cola’s focus on digitally driven initiatives, the campaign features an online hub that connects fans across the world, and three digital films about the promises fans make if their team wins.

Taglines like, “If we win I’ll get a tattoo” will also feature on special edition “promise” packaging worldwide–part of Coca-Cola’s commitment to immerse fans in soccer’s unifying magic.

Once the World Cup kicks off on November 20, Coca-Cola will also unveil a program that highlights fan superstitions during matches. New packaging also will showcase team colors and shared promises.

World Cup 2022 Anthem: “A Kind of Magic”

On October 19, Coca-Cola and Universal Music Group announced the unveiling of the FIFA World Cup 2022 campaign anthem–a multicultural reimagining of Queen’s iconic track, “A Kind of Magic.”

A collaboration between three female recording artists–Danna Paola of Mexico, Felukah of Egypt, and Tamtam of Saudi Arabia–the song was released on October 21, as was the accompanying performance video, filmed in Mexico City. The video captures the excitement for one of the biggest sporting events on the planet, fusing Latin and Arabic culture with the impassioned world of the FIFA World Cup.

An electrifying performance of “A Kind of Magic” is scheduled for the World Cup opening ceremony on November 20, when Qatar will face off against Ecuador to jumpstart the FIFA festivities.

Liga MX Final

October 26, 2022

Leg 1 of the the Liga MX Final begins tomorrow as Toluca FC matches up against CF Pachuca in this final stage.

Toluca FC top sponsors: Roshfrans, Caliente Interactive, Corona (Anheuser-Busch), Under Armour, and Aeromexico.

CF Pachuca top sponsors: Telcel, Betcris, Corona (Anheuser-Busch), Cementos Fortaleza, and GRUPO CHARLY.


Congratulations to Karim Benzema and Alexia Putellas, the winners of this year's Ballon d’Or (“Golden Ball”) Award, presented in Paris on October 17th. Nominees for the annual award recognizing the best player over the previous year–presented by French news magazine French Football since 1956–included 30 men’s and 20 women’s football players from around the world.

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema–nicknamed “Karim the Dream”–was the favorite after winning the UEFA Nations League with France, the LaLiga title, the Spain Supercup, and the Champions League with Real Madrid, as well as the 2021/2022 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year. With 120M total followers, Benzema was the second most-followed Ballon d’Or nominee this year on social media. His partnerships with 6 brands–including adidas, Jean Paul Gaultier, Technogym, and–have generated 16M engagements and counting.

Alexia Putellas won the women’s Ballon d’Or Award for the second consecutive year, becoming the first female player to win the title twice. Her elite run has boosted her social following a whopping 330% year-over-year to 3M across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. The FC Barcelona midfielder takes the 5th spot among both male and female Ballon d’Or nominees in terms of brand partnerships, garnering more than 2.4M engagements across 18 branded posts.

With a staggering following of more than 740M, nominee Cristiano Ronaldo is the most popular person in the world on social media. He also leads the nominees in brand partnerships with 17, including LiveScore, Nike, Clear (Unilever), and CR7, his own underwear brand. With 18 nominations during his career–the most of any player–the Portuguese megastar has won 5 Ballon d’Or trophies, a feat surpassed only by Lionel Messi with 7 awards.

Alex Morgan tops the list of female players on social media with an audience of more than 20M–ranking her 15th among all Ballon d’Or nominees by total followers. With 27 deals, the San Diego Wave striker also partners with more brands than any other female athlete. Morgan’s most engaging branded post–on Instagram with Beat Everybody, the clothing brand she cofounded with fellow US Women's National Soccer Team players Allie Long and Kelley O’Hara–has racked up 293K engagements since January.

To learn more about these athletes and their social metrics, download the Ballon d’Or SPRED Report at

Congratulations to Karim Benzema and Alexia Putellas, the winners of this year’s Ballon d’Or (“Golden Ball”) Award, presented in Paris on October 17th. Nominees for the annual award recognizing the best player over the previous year–presented by French news magazine French Football since 1956–included 30 men’s and 20 women’s football players from around the world.

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema–nicknamed “Karim the Dream”–was the favorite after winning the UEFA Nations League with France, the LaLiga title, the Spain Supercup, and the Champions League with Real Madrid, as well as the 2021/2022 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year. With 120M total followers, Benzema was the second most-followed Ballon d’Or nominee this year on social media. His partnerships with 6 brands–including adidas, Jean Paul Gaultier, Technogym, and–have generated 16M engagements and counting.

Alexia Putellas won the women’s Ballon d’Or Award for the second consecutive year, becoming the first female player to win the title twice. Her elite run has boosted her social following a whopping 330% year-over-year to 3M across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. The FC Barcelona midfielder takes the 5th spot among both male and female Ballon d’Or nominees in terms of brand partnerships, garnering more than 2.4M engagements across 18 branded posts.

With a staggering following of more than 740M, nominee Cristiano Ronaldo is the most popular person in the world on social media. He also leads the nominees in brand partnerships with 17, including LiveScore, Nike, Clear (Unilever), and CR7, his own underwear brand. With 18 nominations during his career–the most of any player–the Portuguese megastar has won 5 Ballon d’Or trophies, a feat surpassed only by Lionel Messi with 7 awards.

Alex Morgan tops the list of female players on social media with an audience of more than 20M–ranking her 15th among all Ballon d’Or nominees by total followers. With 27 deals, the San Diego Wave striker also partners with more brands than any other female athlete. Morgan’s most engaging branded post–on Instagram with Beat Everybody, the clothing brand she cofounded with fellow US Women’s National Soccer Team players Allie Long and Kelley O’Hara–has racked up 293K engagements since January.

El Clásico

October 14, 2022

One of the most anticipated games of the season takes place today in Santiago Bernabeu Stadium as Real Madrid and Barcelona meet in the first LaLiga Classico of the season.

Spotify, the primary jersey patch partner for Barcelona, has agreed to display an OVO Owl jersey patch in the game instead of their typical logo. The patch commemorates Canadian music artist Drake, who became the first artist with 50 billion streams on Spotify. The brand's partnership with FC Barcelona has more than 3X the total assets of any other deal. The partnership includes venue naming rights and social content that amassed over 1M total engagements.

The two powerhouse teams are the top two most followed teams in LaLiga, and have additionally each seen YoY follower growth over 10%. Check out the graphic below to learn more about these teams/athletes competing and their partnership portfolio.

This Sunday, Etihad Stadium will host the 188th edition of one of the greatest football games of the season: the Manchester Derby, with both Manchester United and Manchester City vying for the win to move up the ranks of the Premier League. Off the pitch, let’s compare the teams’ endorsement deals and social media clout.

Since 2008, when Man City was bought by the U.A.E.’s Sheikh Mansour, the team had won the Premier League 6 times.

Man City's success has attracted a slew of brand partnerships: the team has 69 sponsorship and media deals, while Manchester United has 60. In terms of sponsorships only, Man City’s 56 deals eclipse Man U’s 30.

Manchester United has long been considered the most popular Premier League club with the widest fan base worldwide, making them one of the more exclusive teams in the league. Man U leads the Premier League on social media with an astonishing 184.7M followers combined across all channels. Man City ranks a distant 5th by this metric with 98.2M followers. Man U also dominates in total engagement with 21.5M followers–an average of 1.9M per brand–compared to Man City’s total engagement of 8.3M and per-brand average of 270K.

In the last year, Man U’s following grew 28% (vs. 16% for Man City), thanks largely to the team’s re-signing of Portuguese superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo in August 2021. The English club gained over a million followers in the two hours after the club announced the news.

Ronaldo’s staggering 733.1M followers across all social media–almost 3x more followers than both Manchester teams combined–make him the most followed (and arguably influential) person in not just football but in the world. His 23 deals leverage this unrivaled influence: his total engagement of 196M nets out to an average of 12.2M per brand and 2.2M per post.

Meanwhile, Man City star player Kevin De Bruyne currently has deals with 8 brands and a gross social following of 43.5M, and teammate Erling Haaland has 7 deals and tallies over 20M followers. Notably, Haaland’s posts with Dolce & Gabbana, Hyperice, Samsung, and MICROMILSPEC have racked up 10M engagements this year.

The 2022/23 Champions League group stage draw took place today in Istanbul, Turkey. As the countdown to the UEFA showpiece competition begins, let’s see how the kit suppliers and jersey sponsors stack up among the 32 qualified clubs.

Nike supplies over 42% of the teams that qualified directly, trailed by Puma and Adidas with the next largest share of this pool at 19% each. Nike only had one other club, Maccabi Haifa, in the playoff round of qualifying, and supplied 3 of the 4 Premier League automatically qualified teams. Brighton & Hove Albion (who finished 9th in the Premier League in 2021/22) are the only other Premier League team that has a deal with Nike. Nike also serves as kit supplier to Red Bull Salzburg (Austria) and RB Leipzig (Germany)–both owned by Red Bull, which is the primary jersey patch sponsor of both teams.

As apparel sponsor of Sevilla, Rangers and Bayer 04 Leverkusen, UK sportswear brand Castore will see its kit's appear in the Champions League Group Stage for the first time.

Twenty-seven brands are primary jersey patch sponsors of the teams in the Group Stage. But Unibet & Emirates (three), Betano, and Redbull (all two) will have Primary jersey patches on multiple teams in the Group stages.

Of the 32 qualified teams, Sports Betting is the most active category with 8 sponsorships, followed by Airlines with 5 deals and four categories with 3.

SponsorUnited was on the ground at the 2022 MLS All-Star Skills Challenge. Below are the top 3 most commonly seen brands during the Minneapolis-based event.

Event Activations:


Old Spice


ESPN Broadcast:



Frontier Communications

Check out the graphic below to see how these brands activated during the event.

MLS ALL-Star Week (7)

The inaugural MLS NEXT game, presented by Allstate–which took place on August 9th in Minneapolis during this MLS All-Star Week–celebrated 44 of the best young soccer players in North America. It also highlighted Allstate’s prominence as an MLS sponsor: the insurance powerhouse has deals with nearly half of the MLS clubs, and one with the league itself.

Within a top-heavy category of Property & Casualty Insurance, Allstate has made a splash in the sponsorship world, trailing just behind State Farm and GEICO with over 175 deals. More than 25% of its overall partnerships (both sponsorships and media buys) fall within the college landscape–with the Power 5 schools and conferences, where the brand has over 60 deals, its prime targets.

Allstate has sponsored the storied Sugar Bowl since 2007, when it succeeded previous sponsor Nokia. Among its array of assets at the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship, most notable was a sponsored activity which offered fans the chance to kick a field goal into a branded Allstate net. Across all partnerships, 43% of Allstates deals include TV-visible signage–whether field goal net signage, a courtside digital apron, or exit tunnel signage.

Nearly 100 partners have tagged Allstate in a social media post. In the last 12 months, 96 properties have partnered with Allstate on social channels, totaling nearly 1,300 posts–an average 13 posts per deal, with total engagement north of 1.1 million.

Allstate’s highest engaged post, at nearly 70,000 followers, is with the U.S Soccer Federation. Despite its 60-plus deals with Power 5 schools, the brand rarely sees an awareness boost from social posts: Its top performer, with Louisville, engaged just over 5,000 followers, while total engagement with 184 posts across 30 schools still falls short of its soccer post performance.

The brand’s real sponsorship success lies in live events. TV-visible signage–a bona fide brand builder–is included in 88% of Allstate’s deals within the Power 5 schools.

All-State Brand Spotlight

UEFA Super Cup

August 10, 2022

Real Madrid is set to play Eintracht Frankfurt today for the first time in 62 years in the UEFA Super Cup held in Helsinki.

Checkout the brands that will gain most exposure on the field during the match.

UEFA Super Cup

Three European Football Leagues begin their new season this week: English Premier League, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1.

Betway and Coca-Cola had dominant appearances on and off the pitch during the 2021-22 season. Which brands plan to make their mark this season?

To view more insights about European Football download our full report:

The  UEFA2022 Women's Euro–which wrapped up in London on Sunday–garnered record attendance across the entire tournament, doubling it from 2017 for a new record of nearly 575,000 spectators.

The final match–which saw England win its first-ever major women’s championship with a 2-1 victory over Germany–also set new records for attendance and broadcast viewership, with over 87,000 fans and 17.5 million viewers in the UK, respectively.

Fifteen brands leveraged the tournament’s unprecedented spotlight as sponsors, with visibility on social media and at the venues. Healthcare brand Grifols’ many sponsorship assets included signage on the video board, sponsored content via email, and social media posts of the tournament’s top scorer, Beth Mead.

Heineken had a unique opportunity as presenting sponsor of the pregame warm-up for some of the matches, which included a live DJ set.

As the presenting sponsor of the “player of the match” for all 31 games, VISA enjoyed prime positioning, with its logo front and center on the trophy. VISA also scored the most social posts with the UEFA Women’s Champions League with 72–nearly double those of second-place Heineken.

VISA’s social posts with the UEFA outnumbers all other brands in 2022, while Heineken scored the highest total engagement with the league, with 160,000 followers across 46 posts. Heineken also leads in highest average engagement per post, at over 3,000 followers.

VISA and Heineken also created campaigns celebrating women’s empowerment surrounding the tournament. Heineken launched a campaign in May that encourages fans of all genders to show their passion for women’s football. VISA’s campaign, unveiled last month across audio, digital, and print formats, leveraged the tagline, "When more of us play, all of us win," in homage to female athletes.

Women's Euros Final Instant Replay

SponsorUnited released ​​the first international partnerships report focused on European football. Jersey exposure is a significant asset for brands to leverage with the prominent logo position. For more insights, check out the full report.

  • No surprise, Apparel & Accessory giants Nike and Adidas lead the way with 62 team partnerships (34%). The largest number of deals are in Spain (50%) and least amount are with Italian teams (17.5%)
  • Italy has the most suppliers with 17 unique brands
  • There is a relatively even split between primary and secondary leagues (18 different brands av. 5.4 teams each v. 20 @ 5.2)
  • Castore have announced their plans for European expansion (already supplying Newcastle and Wolves) signing up Aston Villa, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Sevilla and UD Almeria for 22/23
  • With nearly 170 kit deals, Ligue 1 is the most popular league for brands to sign a jersey kit sponsorship with
  • 40% of brands purchased both a primary and a practice jersey patch with the same team
  • The highest sub-category for primary jersey patches was Betting Services with 18, despite being banned in 20% of the leagues

The first international sponsorship and marketing report focused on European football.

The 2021-22 European Football Partnerships Report is fortified by data from over 7,000 brands across more than 9,000 deals and from 10 of the top European football leagues (Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1, along with each league’s corresponding second tier.) This report also contains growth and engagement insights on over 2,750 brands that created collaborative social media content.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Construction is the most active sponsorship category for the third consecutive season across European football leagues.
  • While Betting deals have declined by 10%, Crypto deals have grown an impressive 140% this season.
  • The most searched brands by European football club executives were, FTX, DraftKings, Verizon and Dunkin’.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi now officially have over 1B followers combined due in part to joining new clubs.
  • Transferring teams can offer a huge boost in social following for players.

This report was compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform data from July 2021 through May 2022. Social data compiled from property or person-controlled Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and LinkedIn accounts and social activity. The leagues included in this report are as follows: Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, EFL Championship, LaLiga 2, Serie B, 2. Bundesliga, Ligue 2.

Last Saturday, Real Madrid raised their 14th Champions League trophy, making them the most successful team in the history of the tournament, with a total of 14 UCL trophies.

We broke down some of the top insights from the biggest soccer game of the year.

UEFA Champions League IR

Up until Wednesday, the US Women’s Soccer team had to rely heavily on sponsorship deals to level out their income as professional athletes. While the Women’s National Soccer team outperformed the Men’s, there was a HUGE pay gap between genders.

Take a look at a few former and current Women’s Soccer players who capitalized on their skills on and off the field, and how they size up against the men..

Alex Morgan has secured 25 total deals over the past year with some of the most notable brands being Google, Coca-Cola and AT&T. Megan Rapinoe has also cashed in big with 15 total deals including commercials with Cliff Bar and Subway, alongside notable deals with Nike and Victoria Secret. Lindsey Horan has 10 deals most notably with Adidas, Quest Nutrition and Visible. These female athletes have been able to navigate a world with unequal pay and now get the chance to get equal pay and the ability to use their soccer talents to sign more endorsement deals.

On the flip side, Men’s players have seen less success on the field which can equate to less success off the field. Jozy Altidore (former player) & Christian Pulisic have less deals than most of their female counterparts, Altidore has six deals and Pulisic who is an up and coming star on the team has seven. Interesting to see the differences in endorsement deals when a team has been successful on the field as the USWNT has been over the last couple decades.

The final round of the FA Cup took place this weekend as Liverpool defeated Chelsea in a penalty shootout.

We compare the social media presence and deals of Chelsea striker, Romelu Lukaku, with Liverpool defender, Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Liverpool Vs. Chelsea

EA Sports announced this week that they will not be renewing their deal with FIFA, ending their 30+ year partnership. The sports video game industry is essentially broken into two primarily entities, EA Sports and SONY.

EA Sports reigns supreme (even without the FIFA deal) still having deals across four major sports including the NHL, NFL, UFC and FIFA (soccer). SONY has created video games with the NBA 2K MBA game and the MLB with MLB The Show”, but there’s more to these deals than just the game.

During the NFL Kickoff Experience, you couldn’t miss EA Sports as they were the Presenting Sponsor of the event and blasted their logo across every asset possible. During the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas, players and former players had interviews where Madden 2022 was positioned perfectly in front of them.

For NHL All-Star Weekend, EA Sports was the Exclusive Title Sponsor for the NHL Hardest Shot event. You could also see them tagged in multiple social posts throughout the season with NHL 22 esport gamers who partner with the league.

The UFC and EA Sports currently have UFC 4 released and the partnership includes EA Sports as the sponsor of all weight class rankings during pay per view events and fight nights.

MLB The Show, a game made by SONY has multiple placements on the where the game is featured and ready to be ordered. Within the NBA, SONY and PlayStation provide codes in social posts for fans to enter to win the game for free.

In addition to being the first MLS club to win CONCACAF Champions League, the Sounders will also be the first to represent the league at the FIFA Club World Cup.

We highlight some of the activations and FS1 broadcast ads during the Sounders 2022 CONCACAF Champions League victory, which saw a record-breaking crowd of 68,741 fans.


Teams Compete on the Field in El Clásico, While Brands are Competing Off the Field

With a combined annual commercial turnover of €700m, this Sunday, two of the world’s biggest football teams Real Madrid and Barcelona, match up for the second El Clasico of the 2021/22 La Liga season.

The rivalries extend from the pitch to their partners with competitors utilizing the power of the clubs to gain market share in their categories. This can be seen with Nike (FCB) v Adidas (RM), Mahou (RM) v Estrella Damm (FCB), and Cupra (FCB) v Audi (RM). The outlier in this being Coca-Cola, who are the Soft Drink Partner of both clubs, despite Gatorade (PepsiCo) also being the Official Sports Nutrition Partner of FC Barcelona, in comparison to Powerade (Coca-Cola) for Real Madrid.

Most recently, Barcelona agreed to terms with Spotify on a mega 4-year deal worth north of $300 million. This deal marks the teams first with a digital audio company while Real Madrid currently does not have one. The deal sees Barcelona’s stadium renamed to Spotify Camp Nou while also getting exposure on the team's training kits.

Despite both teams having a social following of over 250M, Real Madrid leverages their social media more with over 1,200 sponsored posts (compared to FC Barcelona’s 450) resulting in over double the total engagement at 78.5M v FC Barcelona: 32.3M.

Both teams have global presence and awareness which can be seen through their partnership portfolio. Both teams have deals with large international brands Emirates (RM) and Rakuten (FCB) being the primary jersey patches, as well as smaller, regional deals with local and regional brands for the teams. Real Madrid has regional sponsors including KOK Sports (Asia) and RepX (LATAM), while FC Barcelona include Rakbank (UAE) and Taiping Life Insurance (China) among their partners.

Unlike what is being seen in the U.S., the betting category has shrunk dramatically across La Liga teams. This is due to new laws banning the advertisement of gambling companies across Spain, which had previously seen all La Liga sides having a betting partner in 2020/21, including seven with primary jersey patch deals.

Three weeks into the 2022 MLS season, new brands have been seen entering the MLS sponsorship space for the first time, partnering with teams after the season opener on February 26th. Nashville FC named cryptocurrency brand, Valkyrie Invest, as a founding partner a week into the 2022 season. Nashville FC became the first MLS team to accept a full partnership fee in bitcoin.

Part of the partnership includes club naming rights to Nashville FC’s new 850-seat premium club, which will be renamed to the Valkyrie Premier Club. Valkyrie Invest was the #23 most searched brand this past week on the SponsorUnited platform seeing a jump from #7,492 the previous week. Many other brands have entered the MLS for the first time during the 2022 season.

Nashville SC X GEODIS

With Nashville SC set to begin play at their new stadium during the 2022 season, the team has secured a venue naming rights partner, GEODIS, which will rename the field to GEODIS Park. GEODIS is an international brand headquartered in France with their eyes set on an expansion in the United States as they have recently opened a new warehouse in New York.

Charlotte FC X Ruoff MortgageRuoff Mortgage was named the Official Mortgage Company of Charlotte FC as part of a multi-year partnership less than a week into the club’s inaugural season. This deal marks the brand's first partnership with an MLS club.

NYFC X FloFlo was named the Official Electric Vehicle Charging Partner of the 2021 MLS Champion, the New York City Football Club. The partnership marks the brand’s first Major Pro Sports partnership in the United States although they currently have a deal in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks in Canada.

Chicago Fire X Wintrust Financial CorporationChicago based company, Wintrust, entered the MLS for the first time in a multi-year partnership with the Chicago Fire FC, becoming the Official Banking Partner of the team. The brand will leverage assets which include exclusive pitch entitlement for all home games played at Soldier Field, as well as key signage throughout the stadium including the player tunnel and in-stadium LED signage.

The 2021 MLS Cup Champions, the New York City Football Club, signed a partnership deal with FLO, an electric vehicle charging network and provider. While they have a deal with the NHL (Vancouver Canucks), this partnership marks the first U.S. Major Pro Sports deal for the brand.

FLO will be the Official Electric Vehicle Charging Partner of NYCFC. Their deal with the Canucks includes virtual signage on the broadcast as well as dasher board signage. SponsorUnited highlighted the EV brands that entered the sponsorship world in 2021 in our Automotive Sponsorships 2020-2021 Annual Report. As mentioned in the report, there were seven brands at the time making an impact in the EV space leading the way for more brands to enter into new partnerships.

Rivian teamed up with Professional Fishing Athlete, Camille Egdorf for the release of their first teaser video while well known brand Tesla, jumped into the NIL space securing a deal with USC defensive lineman Nick Figuerora. Lucid Motors made a big splash in 2021 spending on broadcast media with commercials during Super Bowl LV as well as the Rose Bowl and on Saturday Night Live on NBC.

The Cryptocurrency space and NFT’s continue to develop a strong presence in the sponsorship industry. Within the last 12 months, over 40 brands in these categories have signed a venue naming rights deal or a jersey partnership globally.

Most recently, D.C. United secured the first ever Crypto deal in the MLS with a new primary jersey partnership with XDC Network while also following the blueprint set by in the global football market.

XDC Network will be developing a “Fan Token” program which will give fans the opportunity to gain rewards through engagement opportunities, exclusive experiences, and special access to content from the team. The brand will also be providing the landscape for fans to buy, sell, trade or interact with NFTs on the XDC Network through a video platform where fans can also learn more about blockchain technology. This is a first-of-its-kind deal for XDC Network as they have officially entered the sponsorship space within the five major pro sports leagues in the US.

The partnership between these two organizations follows the playbook set by global football teams and who have had “Fan Token” during previous seasons. expanded into the United States during 2021 having deals within the NHL and NBA but has yet to sign a deal within the MLS.

D.C. United & XDC Network

MLS 2021 Report

February 17, 2022

SponsorUnited Releases MLS 2021 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report

MLS surpasses $400M in team sponsorship revenues

Today, SponsorUnited, the leading data platform for sports and entertainment, released the first MLS Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report from the 2021 season. This report highlights trends in sponsorships and partnership data surrounding Major League Soccer and their 27 teams. Take a specialized look into over 2,200 active brands buying sponsorships / media within the MLS space in the report, available now at

MLS surpasses $400M in team sponsorship revenues in 2021.

Roughly half of revenues were driven by six industries: Finance, Healthcare, Automotive, Technology, Insurance, and Media.

Brands eye Major League Soccer as an opportunity to capture younger, new generation growth. MLS saw a 40% increase in brands since 2019. With the buzz around the 2022 World Cup (Qatar), companies may take the leap towards a long-term plan for the 2028 World Cup (US).

Local brands are more likely to invest as a primary jersey sponsor for their MLS clubs.

Of the 27 MLS teams, more than half of the main jersey kit sponsors are headquartered in their local market.

Gaming is shifting the sponsorship landscape with more new deals than any other category.

28 of the 30 net new deals were with Sports Betting brands, while only two were with lotteries and none with daily fantasy apps.

North American soccer television viewership resurges from unusual year.

TV deals in the MLS have seen a steady increase of 60% since 2019, while the 2021 MLS Cup also saw a 38% increase in viewership from 2019.

Although vacant of a league sponsorship, cryptocurrency is ready to take off.As the most searched category on the SponsorUnited platform, expect a big footprint in the near future. Players have also already started to accept crypto as their salary.

For a deeper look, and to access many other insights, download the SponsorUnited MLS 2021 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report at


This report was compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform data from January 2021, through January 2022.

*Social Data Compiled from Property or Person-Controlled Instagram, Facebook and Twitter Accounts and Social Activity.

Coinbase, and FTX all landed in the top five most searched brands by MLS executives utilizing the SponsorUnited platform. Although vacant of a league sponsorship, it seems as if cryptocurrency is ready to take off within the league as XDC Network has signed the first deal for the category with a team this week. As the most searched sub-category on the SponsorUnited platform, expect a big footprint in the near future as players have also already started to accept crypto as their salary.

Although players are accepting salaries in Cryptocurrency, it does not mean they actively have a partnership. Walker Zimmerman is the only MLS athlete with a deal as he has social media posts with Coinmerge promoting their platform. Outside of the MLS, the other four major pro sports in the US have over 25 active Cryptocurrency brands led by FTX and 18% of their deals include Event Entitlements such as Voyager being the presenting sponsor of the Dallas Mavericks game on October 27th against the Houston Rockets. During this game, Voyager not only was the presenting sponsor but had 9 total assets during the game including signage, a promotion sponsor as well as a sponsored attendee take home item which gave fans a code to get $100 in crypto.

It is not uncommon for Cryptocurrency brands to have a promotion tied to their deals. Within major pro sports, five brands total for over 8 promotions including with the MLB league, athletes within these leagues and teams such as the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers.

Five new front-of-jersey sponsors were added to the mix this season, including YETI, MTX Group, FLEX, XBTO and Victory Project.

Local brands are more likely to invest as a primary jersey sponsor for their MLS clubs. Of the 27 MLS teams, more than half of the main jersey kit sponsors are headquartered in their local market.

In 2020, nearly 50 different brands signed on to jersey sleeves. This season, 75% of sleeve sponsorships were exclusive to a single brand resulting in higher visibility. Over 80% of MLS teams had at least one jersey sleeve partner during the 2021 season, only 5 teams had multiple jersey sleeve partners.

While looking for a jersey sleeve partnership, brands should also be searching for ways to get assets such as social media posts, rotating billboard signage, digital billboards and 360 rotating ribbon board signage into their deals. Over 90% of the jersey sleeve deals include social media posts and rotating billboard signage. Heading into their inaugural season in 2022, Charlotte FC signed a jersey sleeve deal with Centene Corporation and a primary jersey partnership with Ally Financial.

This past week, Cristiano Ronaldo became the first person ever to pass 400 million followers on Instagram. Over the 18 years that Ronaldo has been playing professional soccer, he has been able to create a following around the world. Adding in Twitter, Facebook and TikTok, Ronaldo has well over 500 million followers across all social media platforms.

Taking advantage and leveraging his massive following are 20 brands currently within 13 categories. Ronaldo has an apparel deal with Nike which has posted his highest engagement score on social media of over 12.5 million. Other brands Ronaldo has partnered with include Altice, Herbalife, Therabody and Crunch Fitness. Interesting to note that the brands partnered with Ronaldo have headquarters not only in Europe where he plays soccer but also in other countries around the world as he is a global sensation.

The MLS has had a strong rise recently as the league saw a 40% increase in brands buying sponsorship or media from 2019. Although on the rise, the social media presence of some of the top athletes show the true power of being a soccer superstar around the world. Blase Matuidi, Christian Ramirez, Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) and Jonathan dos Santos each have secured over five endorsement deals ranging from apparel brands such as Nike and Puma to Modelo, BodyArmor and Quantum Energy Squares. The four athletes combined have a total Instagram following of just over 14 million which in total is just 3% of the entire following of Cristiano Ronaldo. The top 25 MLS athletes account for only 6% of Ronaldo’s 400 million.

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