Barcelona inks lucrative new jersey sponsor deal – sparked by Pique

Wednesday November 16th, 2016

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona has a new jersey sponsorship deal with Japanese company Rakuten worth 55 million euros ($59 million) a year until 2021.

Rakuten specializes in e-commerce, communications, digital content, and financial technology services, and will become Barcelona's main global sponsor for the next four seasons, with the option of a one-year extension.

Barcelona will also receive "title incentives" throughout the deal, which was formalized on Wednesday. The bonuses include 5 million euros ($5.4 million) if the club wins the Champions League and 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) if it wins the Spanish league, potentially reaching 246 million euros ($264 million) over the four years.

"This agreement puts us at the forefront of sports club sponsorships, which has always been an objective for the current board of directors," Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu said.

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Bartomeu said negotiations began in 2015 at a dinner in San Francisco organized by defender Gerard Pique, who is a friend of Hiroshi Mikitani, the chairman and CEO of Rakuten.

The new sponsor's name will appear on the front of Barcelona's jersey in the 2017-18 season.

The Japanese company is replacing Qatar Airways, which has been sponsoring the Catalan club since 2013.

In the Spanish league, defending champion Barcelona trails leader Real Madrid by two points.

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