August 2 – Audi has extended its Major League Soccer sponsorship by four years. The car maker will remain the MLS’s Official Automotive Partner and title sponsor of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs through to the end of the 2022 season.

No official figure was announced for the deal though Forbes estimates it to be worth in excess of $10 million a season, in comparison with other league sponsors including beer sponsor Heineken which extended its own MLS partnership in March.

“We’re thrilled to extend our relationship with MLS, an integral partner to Audi of America. We remain committed to raising the profile of the game of soccer stateside and value this partnership that allows us to drive participation for the sport,” said Loren Angelo, Vice President, Marketing, Audi of America.

Audi will activate its sponsorship by providing near real-time statistical analysis for all MLS matches through the Audi player index which tracks every on-ball action and is available to fans and featured in the MLS app.

“This is not just a sponsorship to us,” said Gary Stevenson, President and Managing Director of MLS Business Ventures at the launch of the sponsorship in Atalanta as part of the MLS All-Star week and before tonight’s showpiece match against Juventus.

“The most important thing for us is partnering with companies who want to activate their partnership. Audi wants to be part of the fabric of the sport. We try to build programs, and build equity from one year to the next. If you’re going to activate programs at local levels or at big events like the All-Star Game, it takes time to build those things together. That’s why we look for long-term agreements.”

A year ago the MLS unveiled a $700 million six-year deal with apparel sponsor Adidas, the highest in the league’s history and a big increase on the previous $25 million a year agreement.

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Paul Nicholson