Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Inter Miami, featuring football icon Lionel Messi, has announced a significant sponsorship change for the upcoming season. Royal Caribbean International will replace crypto investment firm XBTO as the main sponsor, adorning the team’s jerseys in a multiyear partnership. The move aligns with Inter Miami’s strategy to diversify its sponsorship base and leverage Messi’s global appeal.
In an official statement released on Tuesday, Royal Caribbean International, one of the world’s largest cruise line operators, unveiled its partnership with Inter Miami. The Florida-based company, known for its global cruise operations, expressed enthusiasm for the collaboration, emphasizing the joint impact on industries, global fans, and local communities in South Florida.
The financial details of the sponsorship agreement were not disclosed, but the move positions Royal Caribbean International as a prominent figure in the upcoming MLS campaign, drawing attention to its brand through the high-profile association with Lionel Messi and Inter Miami.
The sponsorship change marks a departure from Inter Miami’s previous partnership with crypto investment firm XBTO, which was announced in September 2021. XBTO’s multi-year agreement was considered a significant milestone in the mainstream acceptance of crypto, aligning with Miami’s aspiration to become a hub for the crypto world. However, the latest move signals a shift away from the crypto industry for the upcoming MLS season.
Lionel Messi, an eight-time Ballon d’Or winner, is a key figure in Inter Miami’s marketing strategy. Beyond the Royal Caribbean deal, Messi has recently collaborated with Hard Rock International for a “Milanese style” chicken sandwich and played a role in the launch of Royal Caribbean International’s “Icon of the Seas” ship.
Inter Miami’s choice of Royal Caribbean International as its main sponsor coincides with the cruise industry’s ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. With signs of increased demand for cruise vacations in 2024, the sponsorship aligns with the positive outlook for the industry.
This move also reflects broader changes in the sponsorship landscape, with sports teams reconsidering their partnerships, as seen with the renaming of the NBA’s Miami Heat home arena from FTX Arena to the Kaseya Center.
As Inter Miami embarks on the upcoming MLS season with Royal Caribbean International as its main sponsor, the collaboration is expected to draw attention to both the football club and the cruise line operator, creating new synergies in the world of sports and entertainment.