By Martin Ross
FIBA, basketball’s world body, has succeeded in bringing on board sportswear giant Nike as its latest sponsorship partner in a wide-ranging contract spanning 11 years and three FIBA Basketball World Cup tournaments.
The commercial agreement coincides with the launch of FIBA’s new competition system this year and covers men’s, women’s and youth national team competitions.
Having initially partnered with FIBA in 2012 as a founding partner of 3x3 basketball, Nike now becomes the federation’s fifth major sponsor in an agreement comprising a cash rights fee, products, promotion and the engagement of top players and Nike ambassadors.
Nike has been named a FIBA Partner for sports apparel (comprising clothing, footwear and accessories). It has also acquired sponsorship rights for men’s and women’s FIBA tournaments for the next 10 years, including the 2019, 2023 and 2027 men’s World Cups and their qualifiers, the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cups, FIBA Continental Cups and their qualifiers, Olympic qualifying events and FIBA under-17 and under-19 Basketball World Cups.
FIBA had been speaking to Nike for a while about ways the two organisations can work together in an all-encompassing fashion to boost national team basketball as a new international calendar with centralised rights to qualifying games comes into effect.
Frank Leenders, director general of FIBA Media & Marketing Services, told Sportcal: “We have been talking for a long time [with Nike] about different ways to grow the game and the World Cup in particular.”
He underlined: “It’s not a sponsorship, it’s really a strategic partnership.
“This is a game-changer for FIBA. It makes a huge difference when you can tell people Nike is a partner of FIBA. Nike is a magnet and a blue-chip brand. It lifts our events and through their promotional and marketing reach, plus their relationship with players, they bring value that only Nike can bring in that category.”
FIBA had been in talks with other sportswear companies over the sponsorship opportunity but there was no invitation to tender issued.
Today’s development officially brings to an end FIBA’s long-running relationships with Champion, the US sportswear brand, and Peak, the Chinese sportswear manufacturing company. Both sponsorship agreements expired at the end of last year, paving the way for the worldwide Nike contract.
Champion had sponsored FIBA since 1995 and held worldwide apparel rights outside Asia, while Peak, which had been a partner of the international federation since 2008, was the official footwear and apparel provider for FIBA tournaments in Asia (and footwear provider for all worldwide FIBA events).
In terms of inventory secured, Nike’s famous ‘swoosh’ branding will be visible on court, while its branding will be integrated online and within arenas and the sportswear behemoth will also provide the uniforms for on-court officials and volunteers. Title sponsorship rights to FIBA’s World Rankings are also included in the package, plus licensing rights to develop, distribute and sell a range of ‘Celebration’ products and footwear.
Craig Zanon, vice-president and general manager of Nike Global Basketball, said: “We are very excited about this partnership with FIBA. FIBA represents the highest level of international basketball competition, and Nike is committed to using our unmatched global reach to help foster player development and inspire fans around the world.
“We are honoured to have helped ignite a powerful culture of basketball in China. Chinese basketball fans' passion and appetite for the game promise to make the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup a marquee global event.”
Nike is thought to have been keen on a long-term agreement covering three World Cups as the sportswear firm wanted to avoid being a victim of its own success, by building up the property only for another brand to step in.
In becoming the fifth FIBA Partner, Nike joins a sponsorship stable that includes Molten, the federation’s official basketball supplier, Tencent, the Chinese internet giant, Beijing Enterprises Group, the multi-faceted group that owns the Yanjing Beer brand, and Wanda, the property and entertainment giant.
Wanda, which owns the Infront Sports & Media agency, became a FIBA sponsor last year as it signed a 17-year tie-up to work with the federation on selling worldwide sponsorship and licensing rights.
That nine-figure contract came on the back of the sum of close to €500 million ($529.2 million) raised through a wide-ranging media rights agreement with Perform, the international digital sports rights group, and a separate nine-year digital deal with Tencent.
The addition of Nike represents a counter-balance to the the existing deals with Asian brands and companies as FIBA targets a maximum of 10 partners.
Patrick Baumann, FIBA’s secretary general, said today: “This is a memorable day for FIBA as we team up with Nike, The basketball brand by excellence. FIBA has already enjoyed the privilege of working with Nike, who is the Founding Partner of 3x3, our ever-growing and popular urban discipline. We look forward to this long term partnership and it helping us grow the game globally, thanks to the unrivalled popularity as well as worldwide presence that Nike has to offer.”