FC Barcelona have revealed Rakuten Inc as their new global partner from 2017, replacing Qatar Airways.
The Japanese based e-commerce, communications, digital content and FinTech services for consumers and businesses around the world, will appear on the front of the first team’s jersey for the next four seasons, beginning in 2017/18.
The agreement was formalised on Wednesday, in a ceremony held at the Auditorium 1899 in the presence of the President of FC Barcelona, Josep Maria Bartomeu, Manel Arroyo, the Vice President responsible for Marketing and Media of FC Barcelona, and the Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Hiroshi Mikitani.
The partnership agreement links the club with Rakuten from the 2017/18 season until the 2020/21 season, with the option of a further one-year extension and is worth 55 million euros for the duration of the four-year contract.
This agreement will be ratified at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Club Members to be held in the near future.
Rakuten will be FCB’s first Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner and will support the players, fans and members with new initiatives showcasing the company’s technological prowess in messaging, drones, e-commerce, AI and much more.
In Europe, the Japanese business is present in companies such as Viber, the mobile messaging and calling app; Wuaki, the video-streaming service established in Barcelona and now available in 12 countries; PriceMinister, one of France’s leading e-commerce sites; and Kobo, a global digital e-reading service now available in 12 European countries.
Rakuten company Viber, the global mobile messaging and calling app, will also become FC Barcelona’s Official Communications Channel.
Making the announcement, Josep Maria Bartomeu, President of FC Barcelona, said: “We are delighted with our agreement with Rakuten, a global brand in innovation whose experience and know-how in the fields of big data, communications and e-commerce will contribute to the future success of FC Barcelona.
“This agreement puts us at the forefront of sports club sponsorships, which has always been an objective for the current Board of Directors.
“We hope this partnership between Rakuten and FC Barcelona brings unparalleled sporting and commercial success, and helps the club achieve its goal of being a reference point worldwide.”
Chairman and CEO of Rakuten Inc. Hiroshi Mikitani, added: “This partnership opportunity is set to power our global brand strategy and, more importantly, as the Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner, we are looking to bring the collective power of our brands like Viber, Wuaki, Ebates, Kobo, PriceMinister to build a cool innovation framework that will deliver innovative solutions and services to fans, members and players.
“I am very excited about joining the Barça community as I have personally followed the team for decades and have long admired their unique playing style and professionalism, their commitment to success and their culture of nurturing young talent – all values we share at Rakuten.”