(Reuters) – Visa on Thursday announced a “substantial investment” in the future of women’s soccer as they agreed a five-year partnership with the U.S. Soccer Federation, just eight days before the start of the women’s World Cup in France.
As part of the deal, Visa said it will partner with both the women’s (USWNT) and men’s national teams. However, the terms assured “at least 50%” of the investment would fund the USWNT and women’s soccer programmes.
“Women make the vast majority of consumer purchases and start millions of small businesses a year,” Lynne Biggar, Visa’s chief marketing and communications officer, said in a statement.
“By making a substantial investment in women’s initiatives, including soccer, Visa is celebrating this powerful global force.”
The deal would see Visa becoming the presenting sponsor of the SheBelieves Cup, an annual four-team international tournament staged in the U.S.
The American financial services giant will also launch a marketing campaign featuring U.S. World Cup squad members Adrianna Franch, Jessica McDonald, Rose Lavelle, Abby Dahlkemper and Becky Sauerbrunn.
“With Visa joining us in our long-term investment in women’s soccer, we will continue to increase opportunities for women players, coaches and referees at all levels,” said Jay Berhalter, chief commercial officer, U.S. Soccer.
“Overall, we are looking forward to Visa helping us reach our mission by increasing participation, developing world class players, coaches and referees, and increasing fan engagement.”
USWNT co-captain Megan Rapinoe and England’s Fran Kirby are now part of Visa’s “roster of diverse athletes” representing a range of countries and sports.
Visa, whose investment in women’s soccer already includes the senior World Cup as well as the Under-20 and Under-17 editions, said it will also become the first brand partner of the Player of the Match award in France next month.
In December, Visa agreed a seven-year deal with European soccer body UEFA to sponsor the women’s game at all levels.
The U.S. launch their title defence against Thailand on June 11 in Group F which also features Sweden and Chile.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)