What is Rakuten to become FC Barcelona’s primary shirt sponsor?

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In November 16, FC Barcelona of the Liga Espanola announced that Rakuten Inc. become their main global partner and their first-ever global innovation and entertainment partner. Rakuten also become Barcelona’s primary shirt sponsor from 2017 -2018 season. The contract is 4 years and the sponsorship fee amounts to 55 million euros per year. There is also the bonus fee Apart from this sponsorship fee. If the Barcelona will win a championship of the Liga Espanola, they will be paid a bonus of 1.5 million euros. And If they Barca will win the UEFA Champions League, they will receive a bonus of 5 million euros. Then the Barcelona will play matches several times in Japan within the contract period. In a Japanese company, Yokohama Tire become the Chelsea’s primary shirt sponsor and the sponsorship fee amounts to 47 million euros per year.

What is Rakuten? Rakuten founded in Japan on 1997, they are famous internet company in Japan. Rakuten are operating the shopping mall on the internet, like the Amazon Marketplace. Besides, they also conduct the banking and the telecommunications in Japan. In the sports field, Rakuten manage a professional baseball team of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, and they manage a football club of the Vissel Kobe in the J-League. So Rakuten is considering the match between the Vissel and the Barcelona at Japan in the future.

Why did Rakuten sponsor the Barcelona? Actually, Rakuten is the internet company, they bought “Buy.com” and “Play.com”. But they have not been very successful in the world. They operated a shopping mall on the internet in each country, but they lost to competition such as Amazon. Until November 2016, Rakuten withdrew from China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia. and they also withdrew from the United Kingdom, Spain and Austria. Now Viber of the instant messaging app is the only service that they offer worldwide. So there is no need for Rakuten to sponsor the Barcelona and raise their profile in the world.

Then do they have any other purpose? It is a personal contribution of the founder of Rakuten, Hiroshi Mikitani. He is a friend of Shakira and her husband Gerard Pique, player of the Barca. Minitani and they had a meal at San Francisco in 2014, there were also President Josep Maria Bartomeu and the management team of the Barcelona. The story of this contract started from there. Mikitani is rich, his asset is written as 5.6 billion dollars in 2016 Forbes magazine. So this contract is cheap to satisfy his self esteem.

An other Japanese company is also involved in the FC Barcelona. Nikken Sekkei Ltd will repair the Camp Nou of the Barcelona’s home stadium from 2017, the construction will be done until 2021. They set up a roof and do construction work to increase the number of seating capacity to 105,000. This renovation cost is 420 million euros, so Rakuten sponsorship fee will also be used.

Not only companies but also Japanese players may be playing in the Barca. A Japanese young player, Takefusa Kubo had played in the cantera of the FC Barcelona. Because the Barca has violated the provisions of the FIFA so kubo returned to Japan. He played an active part even after returning Japan, and played in the J-League first time few days ago. He is at the age of 15, it was the youngest record of the J League. Now Barcelona have a high opinion of him, and consider to re-signing if he will becomes 18 years old.

This youtube’s video is the press conference of the contract. The kanji name of Rakuten “楽天” is not on the breast of the uniform, the appearance becomes “Rakuten” in English notation.