MTN injects $65m into 2010
14 July 2006
South African cellphone company MTN is to be Africa's first-ever global sponsor of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, with the announcement of a US$65-million deal for the event over the next four years.
The deal, announced in Johannesburg on Thursday, gives MTN exclusive mobile content rights for Africa and the Middle East, as well as global marketing rights for the 2010 event, which will be staged in South Africa.
As a global sponsor, MTN joins international heavyweights Coca-Cola, Visa, Adidas and Emirates at the top level of Fifa sponsorship.
The second level includes MasterCard and McDonald's, which has extended its World Cup sponsorship from 2007 to 2014, a period covering the next two tournaments.
Sponsors on the third level, which for 2010 will be made up of six South African companies, are known as "national supporters". First National Bank became the first national sponsor last week, with a commitment of $30-million.
"MTN is ready to bring the 2010 Fifa World Cup to the mobile phones of millions of football fans in Africa and the Middle East," MTN chief executive Phuthuma Nhleko said at the announcement.
"We are passionate about football and believe that it is a significant development area as it touches the lives of everyone, everywhere you go. We are privileged to take up this global sponsorship and look forward to being part of this historic event."
Africa's leading cellphone operator
Following its recent acquisition of Investcom LLC, MTN is the leading mobile operator in Africa and the Middle East, with some 500-million people in its footprint area and more than 28-million subscribers. It operates in 21 countries, including Syria, Ghana, and Nigeria, and in August will begin operations in Iran.
The company also has a heavy investment in football sponsorship, having put its name behind the MTN CAF Champions League and the MTN African Cup of Nations.
Fifa President Seph Blatter congratulated the company on the historic deal, saying Africa's time had come.
"It is historical that MTN is the first African company to be a global sponsor of the Fifa World Cup and I want to commend MTN and Nhleko on this sponsorship," he said.
The 2010 tournament in South Africa is already a record earner for Fifa, with $3.1-billion in sponsorship deals secured so far for the next four years. In the period between 2003 and 2007, which included the recent tournament in Germany, Fifa earned $1.8-billion.
MTN was the mobile content provider for the World Cup in Germany this year.
In his address during the hand-over ceremony in Berlin last Friday, South African President Thabo Mbeki said the 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa would be the first event of this magnitude where the people of the world would be able to participate via their cellphones.