Major League Soccer (MLS) and Soccer United Marketing, MLS’ commercial arm, announced a multi-year partnership deal with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates.
Within the new agreement, Etihad Airways becomes the official airline partner of MLS in the United States. It is the Abu Dhabi-based airline’s first multi-year sports sponsorship in the territory and one that underscores its expanding commitment to the U.S. market.
Etihad Airways and MLS will also work together on a number of activations and initiatives including community programs, as well as hosting competitions and promotions for flights and holidays with MLS fans.
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “Etihad Airways has a growing portfolio of sports properties that cover the globe and we’re delighted to now add Major League Soccer, a leading international sports brand, to this group.”
The agreement will see the Etihad Airways logo and its messages beamed across LED pitch-side advertising during nationally televised MLS matches, as well as across national broadcast partners and MLS Digital Properties, the leading online soccer platform in North America.
Major League Soccer represents the sport’s highest level in the United States and Canada, composed of 19 teams, with 16 in the U.S. and three in Canada. The MLS regular season runs from March to October, with the MLS Cup Playoffs taking place in November and December.
MLS’ global presence continues to increase with the announcements of expansion clubs, New York City FC and Orlando City Soccer Club.
Mr. Hogan added: “The MLS partnership will enable Etihad Airways to continue to build its brand in the United States, a key market for us, and offers an ideal platform to interact with the millions of sports fans and communities across the country and showcase the airline and services.”
Don Garber, Commissioner of Major League Soccer, said: “We are excited to welcome Etihad Airways as the official airline partner of Major League Soccer in the United States and are proud to be the first major sports association in the U.S. for such a prestigious global company. On behalf of our clubs, our players and our millions of fans, we welcome Etihad Airways to the MLS family and look forward to working with them to help grow their business in this region.”
Etihad Airways currently operates daily flights between its hub at Abu Dhabi Airport and Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. In June 2014 it will launch daily flights to Los Angeles and in December it will start a three flights-a-week service to Dallas-Fort Worth.
The airline has a premium lounge at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. and has plans to open one at New York’s JFK Airport and Los Angeles’ LAX.
In addition to MLS, Etihad Airways’ sponsorship portfolio includes the Nation’s Triathlon in Washington, D.C., the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Etihad Stadium in Manchester, Manchester City Football Club, All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, Harlequins Rugby Club, and the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.