The National Women’s Soccer League and Delta Air Lines have agreed to a multi-year partnership that brings the global airline on board as the league’s premier airline and official travel partner. The league did not disclose financial terms of the deal, which begins this year, but Delta described it as a “significant investment”.
Although there is currently no charter element in the sponsorship, the league and Delta will work together to “meet the travel needs of teams,” a NWSL said the spokesperson. “Travel details will continue to evolve.”
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Delta, the world’s second largest airline, will focus on fan engagement and brand opportunities. He will also support NWSL athletes through what he describes as programming around women’s empowerment and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
The deal represents Delta’s first major sponsorship of a women’s professional league and its first national league sponsorship deal.
“Delta is a champion for the growth of women’s sports in the United States and around the world,” NWSL Chief Revenue Officer Mitch Poll said in a statement. “We are thrilled to welcome their team to the family and to work together as we continue to establish the NWSL as the premier women’s soccer league in the world.”
Delta (NYSE: DAL) is also a partner the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, taking on the role of United Airlines in a massive eight-year deal with the USOPC and the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games‘ Steering Committee. The Atlanta-based airline chartered Team USA athletes to Beijing this year and is doing so again this month for the Paralympic Games, which begin on Friday. Delta’s sports sponsorship portfolio also includes a number of NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB clubs, as well as MLS’s LAFC and a handful of NCAA programs, including Duke, Georgia and Georgia Tech.
“Joining the National Women’s Soccer League as the first-ever airline sponsor is a proud milestone in Delta’s work to support the teams and communities where we live, work and serve,” said Molly Battin, Senior Vice President of Marketing. global brand at Delta.
The news comes amid talk of air travel in women’s sport in general.
The WNBA, long criticized by its players for its travel arrangements and required use of commercial airlines, came under fire this week amid a scandal in which it rebuked the New York Liberty ownership group for violating the ‘ABC of the league in charter flights during the second half of last season. Owners Joe and Clara Tsai, who also own the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA’s Barclays Center, were fined and threatened with other potential penalties, including expulsion.
Tsai, who has expressed a need to resolve travel issues, advocated last season for a WNBA airline partner to help charter flights for all teams and even found a voluntary carrier, but an unofficial proposal n did not receive sufficient support from the other owners, according to the Sports Illustrated report.
Actress Gabrielle Uniona new investor at Los Angeles-based NWSL club Angel City joined the chorus of critics, saying the news sounded like “an open desire by some owners to ENSURE that female athletes don’t have the same advantages as male professional athletes”.
The 12-team NWSL will kick off its 10and season with the 2022 Challenge Cup, which begins on March 19. The league appears to have financial momentum ahead of this year’s campaign, with the Washington Spirit selling for a record $35 million in the consequences of a widespread abuse scandal. The NWSL’s search for a new commissioner continues after Lisa Baird resigned last fall, but under the leadership of interim CEO Marla Messing, Delta has joined other prominent sponsor by signing with the league. In December, the NWSL signed a long-term partnership extension with Nike and added a multi-year agreement with the cryptocurrency travel brokerage Digital to his portfolio. The league described the two deals as one of the largest corporate sponsorships in its history.
He also agreed to his first ABC with its players’ association, which received a $100 million investment from league owners.
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