MIAMI, Fla. (February 7, 2020) —
On his most recent trip to Qatar, David Beckham reportedly had talks concerning a possible sponsorship agreement with the Qatar government for Inter Miami. He has acted as a spokesperson for the Qatar World Cup 2022.
The club begins its inaugural season at the end of this month and has yet to announce a shirt sponsor. In fact,they are the only team in MLS without a primary kit sponsor. While that is better for fans, who don’t have to have a corporate logo plastered across their chest when sporting the team shirt, it’s bad for business, and in particular the business of running a soccer team.
Discussions with Qatar are said to be at an advanced stage, with the reported top-tier partnership potentially covering kit sponsorship and naming rights to the club’s Freedom Park stadium, scheduled to open in 2022, but more likely in 2023 or 2024. Given the new stadium’s location next to Miami International Airport, it only makes sense to have a partnership with an airline, more so with a partner that is internationally renowned. Qatar Airways was crowned the best airline in the world for 2019, according to the consumer-aviation website Skytrax.
It has not been reported exactly what Beckham’s own role would be if Qatar come on board, but the 44-year-old global icon already has strong links to the Gulf state, after ending his playing career with Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in 2013.
Qatar Airways has been an active sponsor of major football clubs in recent years. It had a shirt sponsorship with FC Barcelona previously. The carrier further strengthened its global sporting partnerships in 2018, becoming the official shirt sponsor of Club Atlético Boca Juniors through the 2022/23 season.
Additionally, in April 2018, the air carrier signed a multi-year partnership agreement with Italian football club AS Roma, further strengthening its commitment to Italy and sports.
According to an announcement, the agreement was the largest ever signed by the club and will see Qatar Airways becoming AS Roma’s Main Global Partner, with the airline’s logo to adorn the team’s shirts through the 2020-21 season. The shirt sponsorship agreement is worth 40 million euros ($48.92 million) for three seasons, a source close to the matter stated to Reuters.
“AS Roma is one of the most successful and well-known football clubs in the world, and our shared passion to strive for excellence and innovation make this a natural partnership,” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Office Akbar Al Baker.
Bryn Anderson, Director at Brand Finance, commented:
“The Middle Eastern airlines are leading the industry in their support of iconic global football clubs. Not only is this earning significant attention within the European cities where the clubs are based, but the global nature of their fan base is earning attention for the airlines from across the world. These sponsorships work because football is a truly global sport, allowing airlines with global aspirations to reach customers and potential customers around the world.”
The airline currently flies twice a day to Rome and Milan, as well as daily to Venice and Pisa. They also acquired a 49 percent stake in AQA Holding, the parent company of Air Italy, which was previously known as Meridiana. Air Italy also flies to Miami from Milan (Malpensa) once a day, six days a week.
Qatar Airways is further embracing sports as the Official Airline Partner of FIFA, which includes 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, the FIFA Club World Cup, the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Moreover, it has signed a five-year partnership agreement with leading German football team FC Bayern München, and has a partnership with the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in Rome.
“As an airline, we firmly believe in the power of sport to unite people.” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker.
Miami became Qatar Airways’ sixth destination in the United States back in June 2014.
Inter Miami has previously announced Heineken as a founding part and official beer, and BodyArmor as the official sports drink. But as mentioned, the shirt sponsor is yet to be announced. A big name sponsor such as Qatar Airways would be a major victory for the commercial side of the operations.