Buenos Aires Times

latin america SPORTS SPONSORSHIP

Qatar Airways ties up another sponsorship deal as CONMEBOL's 'airline partner'

Boss of Qatar Airways says firm also considering potential sponsorship deal with English Premier League.

Wednesday 31 October, 2018
Boca Juniors have been sponsored by Qatar Airways since May.
Boca Juniors have been sponsored by Qatar Airways since May. Foto:NA: DAMIAN DOPACIO

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Qatar Airways announced yet another football sponsorship deal on Wednesday by unveiling a four-and-a-half year agreement with CONMEBOL to become the South American football confederation's "official global airline partner." The sponsorship agreement will run until the end of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

"Qatar Airways is delighted to become the official global airline partner of CONMEBOL," said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker. "This is another big sponsorship that we are doing in football."

Al-Baker said that the "milestone" deal would help bolster the brand of the airline and the country.

José Manuel Astigarraga, CONMEBOL's secretary general, called it a "super, fantastic agreement."

"[It will] build a brighter situation for all of football," he said.  "For us, it's a really big honour to have Qatar as a sponsor."

Citing a confidentiality agreement, Astigarraga refused to disclose how much the deal was worth but said it was "very interesting."  

It is the latest deal in a rapidly growing football sponsorship portfolio for Qatar Airways, who is also considering a sponsorship deal with the English Premier League, the company's boss confirmed. 

The airline is already a shirt sponsor of local giants Boca Juniors, Italian side Roma and has a deal for sleeve sponsorship with Germany's biggest team, Bayern Munich. Qatar Airways is also the "official airline" for world governing football body, FIFA.

Qatar's sporting and trade relationship with Latin America is also growing, with the country deepening its ties with Argentina of late.

Al-Baker confirmed that Boca Juniors will play in Qatar early in 2019 – talks are ongoing for the Xeneize to play in a potential four-team tournament, which may also include Roma. Qatar's national side will play in next year's Copa América in Brazil as an invitee.

Wednesday's announcement comes just weeks after Qatar's leader Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani completed a trip to Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, during which he met with President Mauricio Macri.

Speaking to AFP on Wednesday, al-Baker his company was considering "several options" for a potential sponsorship deal in the Premier League. 

The Gulf airline has a growing number of high-profile football deals but has so far not ventured into the multi-billion pound English league.

Well, we are looking at several options," he told AFP.

Asked what these might be, he smiled and refused to be drawn.

An aide said the airline was in "negotiations," but added no more.

Previous unconfirmed speculation has linked the airline to a potential ground naming deal with Tottenham Hotspur, who are in the process of rebuilding their White Hart Lane stadium. Delays have hit that development though and the stadium will not be ready until at least January 2019.

Akbar said the deals help promote the airline's image and well as that of Qatar, the football World Cup host in 2022.

Outside football, the airline also has deals with the Sydney Swans Australian rules football team and the US basketball side, Brooklyn Nets.

- TIMES/AFP

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