The UEFA European Football Championships are one of the few mega sporting events capable of generating and maintaining global engagement and excitement over an extended period of time, making the tournament an attractive playground for global partners. Indeed, for this year’s edition, nine out of the 12 main UEFA sponsors come from outside of Europe, with China having the biggest share of sponsors with Alipay, vivo, TikTok and Hisense, while AntChain, the blockchain business of the Ant Group, an affiliate company of the Chinese multinational Alibaba Group, also announced a five-year global partnership with UEFA on the eve of the tournament. Moreover, the event is being broadcast to a global audience of over 1.9 billion via television, streaming platforms and radio, in more than 220 countries and territories via more than 130 broadcast partners.
Regarding tournament revenues, EURO 2016 in France generated altogether EUR 1.93bn – a third (34%) upon the prior edition’s take in 2012. That overall income was made up of EUR 480m from sponsorship and licensing, EUR 1.05bn from media rights, and EUR 400m from matchday revenues. This time revenues from ticketing and hospitality will surely be lower than in the previous edition, due to capacity restrictions at most host venues. With the sole exception of Hungary, which is allowing for a full house in Budapest’s 67k-seat Puskás Aréna, all the other 10 venues settled for venue capacity ranging from 22% to 50%. According to the latest news, London’s Wembley Stadium remains the venue for the semi-finals and the final of the tournament despite coronavirus infections rising in the UK. Moreover, the British government had already agreed to increase Wembley’s capacity of about 22k to at least 40k for a last-16 tie, while UEFA would like to increase the attendance to 65k for the last three matches of the European Championship.
Beyond the 12 main sponsors, the tournament also serves as a billboard for the technical kit suppliers of the participating nations to strengthen their market position. In return, shirt sponsors are a major revenue source for federations. As the chart below shows, Germany earn the most from their kit sponsorship deal with Adidas (USD 85.2m annually) followed by France (USD 60.8m per year) and England (USD 47m per year). With nine teams in total, Nike equips the most participating national teams in the tournament, followed by Adidas (8) and Puma (4).
The spotlight provided by the tournament also helps top footballers position their personal brands. At an individual level, it is no surprise to see Cristiano Ronaldo topping the ranking of highest-paid individual footballers in regard to endorsement deals. Being the commercial face of numerous brands, including sportswear manufacturer Nike, consumer goods producer Unilever, streaming service DAZN, and many more, the Portuguese forward earns an estimated USD 72m annually.
The power individual athletes have over brands has been shown by recent incidents at EURO 2020 press conferences. Temporarily, Coca-Cola lost around USD 4bn in market value, after Cristiano Ronaldo removed bottles of Coca-Cola and replaced them with water at a news conference. The American drinks giant, which is worth almost USD 240bn, shrugged off the impact, stating that "Everyone is entitled to their drink preferences”. Italy’s Manuel Locatelli later joined Ronaldo in moving Coca-Cola bottles aside, while Heineken saw a similar incident when Paul Pogba, in respect of his Muslim faith, moved a non-alcoholic Heineken bottle from the table at a post-match press conference. In response, UEFA reminded participating teams of their contractual regulations. Tournament director Martin Kallen said players were contractually obliged "through their federation of the tournament regulations to follow", adding that UEFA has no intention in fining players and any potential sanctions are at the discretion of the national federations.