Digicel deal kicks in

Sports editors from across the Caribbean gathered in Bridgetwon, Barbados last Friday for the launch of Digicel’s multi-million dollar sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup 2010.

foley barbados

Foley announced the Digicel deal. Photo: Ron Shillingford

Digicel is the largest sponsor of football in the Caribbean and Central America.

Football fans can watch up to 274 football matches over the next 12 months, starting with the Confederations Cup which kicked off in South Africa last week, right up to the World Cup 2010, also in South Africa.

Digicel has an exclusive regional deal with broadcaster IMC/Sportsmax.

FIFA Vice-President and CONCACAF and Caribbean Football Union President, Jack Warner, said: ‘I am delighted that Digicel has come on board to bring live coverage of the world’s most exciting football event to fans across the region.

‘Football is the most popular sport in this region, and as the biggest mobile operator and supporter of football across the Caribbean, it is only fitting that Digicel should come together with FIFA to bring bigger, better football to the fans.

‘Not only will Caribbean fans be able to watch the FIFA World Cup, but this deal also allows them to follow the South American World Cup Qualifiers, the FIFA Confederations Cup, the FIFA Under 17 World Cup and the FIFA Under 20 World Cup.’

Digicel Group Marketing Director, Kieran Foley, said: ‘The FIFA World Cup 2010 is the biggest football tournament in the world. As the biggest investor in football in the Caribbean and Central America, Digicel has listened to what our customers want. Our customers are so passionate about this tournament – we are delighted to be bringing live televised coverage of it to the people of the Caribbean.’

Foley played professionally in Ireland for nine years. He added: ‘In the last four years Digicel’s sponsorship of national teams has grown from three teams to 16.

‘We’ve listened to our customers and branched into football as initially we were just in cricket. We’re trying to ensure we’re bringing more interactive football progressions in this region.’

SportsMax Limited President and CEO, Oliver Mcintosh, said: ‘We’re delighted with this deal. The countdown to the World Cup 2010 is on – and the excitement is going to build and build.’

At the launch was former Dutch international Edgar Davids who was actually born in Suriname and is taking a year away from playing to concentrate on two football programmes in his homeland.

Davids, 36, played 74 times for Holland and played for a host of top European clubs; Ajax, AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Tottenham.

As well as sponsoring 16 national football associations, federations and Digicel international matches in the Caribbean and Central America, Digicel is the main sponsor of the Digicel Caribbean Championships and the Copa de Naciones Digicel – which are the sole qualifying tournaments for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Digicel also runs the Digicel Kick Start Clinics which are currently in their second year.

The Kick Start Clinics are currently taking place for Under 16 footballers in six Caribbean and four Central American countries.

Former England and Liverpool legend, John Barnes, is head coach of the Digicel Kick Start Clinics and will select eight of the most talented Caribbean players to spend one week training with Sunderland AFC, and six of the most talented Central American footballers to spend one week training with Liverpool AFC.

Four teams – Jamaica, Guadeloupe, Grenada and Cuba – from the 2008 Digicel Caribbean Championships qualified for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup next month in the US. Haiti has now taken the place of Cuba.