MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish football’s wealthy La Liga is to become a sponsor of tennis’s revamped Davis Cup competition for the next four years, sports bodies said on Thursday.
Founded in 1900, the Davis Cup is the largest annual international team competition in sport, but has suffered as a spectacle since many top players began opting out.
To breathe life into the tournament, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) signed a 25-year $3 billion (£2.3 billion) deal last year with an investment group called Kosmos, fronted by Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique.
It will now comprise of a week-long, World Cup-style knockout event between 18 countries at the end of the regular season. This year’s finals are in Madrid in November.
“The cross-sport partnership with La Liga is innovative for the Davis Cup,” ITF President David Haggarty said of the new sponsorship arrangement. “This will widen our reach to not only tennis fans but other sports enthusiasts.”
No financial details were given.
La Liga will promote the Davis Cup via international broadcasts in 200 countries during league matches throughout October. They have also partnered up for the Davis Cup qualifiers, starting this weekend, in which 12 winners will seal places at the finals in Madrid alongside already qualified Croatia, France, United States, Spain, Argentina and Great Britain.
La Liga sponsored Spain’s 2016 Davis Cup tie in India, while last year it announced a partnership with the Renault Formula 1 team. It also supports Spain’s 64 sporting federations.
“La Liga is pleased to partner with Kosmos Tennis as it represents a great opportunity to link our brand and those of our clubs with a worldwide sport and entertainment icon,” said Oscar Mayo, La Liga’s international business development director.
(Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)