Lega Serie A has added soft drink giants Coca-Cola as title sponsor to its Supercoppa Italiana competition.
This year’s edition of the one-off match, which will now be known as the Coca-Cola Super cup takes place this Sunday and brings together the 2018-19 Serie A Champions Juventus and Italian Cup holders Lazio.
Up until 2017, the title sponsor role was filled by Italian telecoms company TIM, which remains the naming rights sponsor of Serie A.
TIM was the title sponsor of Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa in a deal that expired at the end of the 2017-18 season. The telecoms brand returned as the Serie A title sponsor in a three-year deal worth €15m ($16.7m) per year but the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa aspects were not renewed.
Following the collapse of a proposed €5m-per-year title sponsorship deal with the Italian train service Frecciarossa for the national cup competition and the Supercoppa, TIM returned as the Coppa Italia title sponsor for the closing rounds of the 2018-19 tournament.
The competition was founded in 1988 and has been held outside of Italy on 11 occasions in countries including China, the USA and Qatar.
As with the 2018 Supercoppa final, the 2019 event will be held in Saudi Arabia, following the agreement signed between Lega Serie A and Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority (GSA) to stage the match in the country for the next five seasons.
This has received criticism due to concerns over human rights in the country. In September 2019, UsigRai, the journalists’ union of public-service broadcaster Rai, and the Italian division of Amnesty International called on Juventus and Lazio to boycott the match.
There is also discontent about the presence of Saudi Arabian pirate channel beoutQ, which has been transmitting sporting events illegally, including the Serie A across the Middle East and North Africa region. The Saudi Arabian government has denied allegations it is involved in the operation.
Qatari-based broadcaster beIN has stated it is reviewing its commercial relationship with the league because of the influence of beoutQ.
It is one of the Serie A’s biggest media-rights partners paying $170m (€153m) per season for the exclusive rights to broadcast the competition between the 2018-19 and 2020-21 across 36 territories.
Lega Serie A chief executive, Luigi de Siervo indicated that the organisation was obligated to fulfill its deal to host the Super Cup hosting deal signed with GSA.
Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the competition follows news of a new appointment within its commercial operation.
Manuel Arroyo is the multinational’s new chief marketing officer, a position which it had dropped from the company two years ago.
Arroyo is currently the president of the organisation’s Asia Pacific group, a role he will continue in alongside his new job.