It’s been a busy week for soccer jersey collectors.

On Monday, Colombian edtech Platzi announced it will be Granada CF’s main sponsor for the 2021-22 season. The team is part of LaLiga Santander, Spain’s top professional men’s football division. 

Platzi said the company and Granada CF have “shared values” and  “both bet for Latin American talent”. The soccer team has several Latam hires both in its male and female teams, and Platzi’s entire mission is about empowering tech education in the region. 

Mexican crypto exchange Bitso broke the news on Wednesday: it has partnered with the Mexican Football Federation and will sponsor the country’s official soccer team during the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

An NFT collection is also part of the deal, and Bitso’s CEO Daniel Vogel hinted more crypto-related services will be unveiled for Mexican soccer fans in due time. The reason Bitso gave for its new sponsorship? “We couldn’t ask for a better partner to promote access to tech and innovation in Mexico.”

Soccer is played by 250 million players all over the world and is one of the most popular sports both in Latam and Europe. So in terms of a marketing strategy, it’s a no-brainer. But what’s happening with new sponsors is worth another look:

  • Sponsoring soccer teams is almost a rite of passage for startups. Grab, Southeast Asia’s superapp, sponsored Thailand’s national soccer team in 2019. UK-based delivery company Zapp became Chelsea FC’s main sponsor last July. Cazoo, Europe’s largest online car retailer, now sponsors two Premier League teams. Even the League’s defending champion, Manchester City, had closed a partnership deal with crypto company 3Key Technologies, but suspended it due to the startup’s mysterious onine presence. And Bitso is also sponsoring Brazilian soccer team São Paulo Futebol Clube.

  • Growth rounds require big marketing spending. Platzi raised a US$62 million Series B investment round last December. Bitso became a unicorn in 2021, having raised US$250 million in a Series C in May. They’re following the steps of other well-funded startups in a growth stage: Kavak is also sponsoring the Mexican soccer team (and even welcomed Bitso to the team), and just before its December IPO, Nubank announced it’ll be the 2022 World Cup’s main sponsor in South America.

So as the year moves forward, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more unicorns or soonicorns getting ready to visit Qatar as sponsors.