The addition of women’s and youth tournaments to the International Champions Cup has led to new commercial opportunities for organisers Relevent Sports.
Most notably, Relevent has received considerable interest from sponsors just for the women’s tournament and has secured a supplier deal with Nike already.
This year adidas will partner with the men’s event, Nike will sponsor the women’s tournament and New Balance will support the Futures event.
As part of these supplier deals, the men’s and women’s tournaments will use adidas and Nike balls respectively, while Relevent staff will wear polo shirts brandishing adidas, Nike and New Balance logos at the respective events.
“We have some sponsors just interested in the women’s game as a product,” Charlie Stillitano, Relevent’s executive chairman, told SportBusiness.
“The men’s tournament is sponsored by adidas, the women’s tournament by Nike. And it’s a very important part of [Nike’s] strategy to have the women’s tournament because they have the Women’s World Cup coming up with all their players and they sponsor the NWSL [National Women’s Soccer League].
“The suppliers are in interested in the whole tournament but you have to focus certain money, certain energy, certain resources and so…Nike was like, ‘we really want the women’s tournament’ and adidas was like, ‘we really like the men’s tournament’ because many teams are adidas teams and it fits into their strategy. That’s a good example of how we are able to differentiate it.”
The schedule of the men’s tournament was announced on Wednesday and the teams involved in the women’s and youth tournaments will be unveiled on Friday.
Stilliano said that the women’s event will take place after the Women’s World Cup in France – which will likely secure the participation of national team players – and the Futures event will be moved to December.
The women’s tournament is increasing from four to eight teams – with four from the NWSL and four from the rest of the world – and will be held at two venues instead of one. “We could have made it – and I’m not exaggerating – about 24 teams. But we wanted to keep it tight and we wanted to keep it focused,” said Stillitano.
“That to me is really important to me, that we have high-calibre games and that it’s concentrated so people can see it and focus on it. Every team in Europe is now saying we want to be a part of it. This year and next we’ll start expanding it further. I think that in no time we’ll be 32 teams, I really believe that. Our goal is to make it the No 1 [women’s] club tournament in the world.”
ESPN recently renewed its broadcast deal with the International Champions Cup, which included airing women’s and Futures games. Stillitano said: “They wanted the women’s tournament and the youth tournament in their portfolio.”
FC Barcelona, Manchester City and Chelsea are among the notable absentees in the men’s tournament this year. Relevent chief executive Daniel Sillman told SportBusiness: “[They] had do matches for other brands that they are partners with in Japan and logistically it didn’t work out schedule-wise.”