Media Room

November 16, 2016
  • Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten to become FC Barcelona
Main Global Partner
from 2017-2018 season

Rakuten will appear on the front of the team jersey and become the Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner for the next four seasons, starting July 1, 2017

Tokyo, November 16, 2016 – Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) today announced it has agreed to a four-year partnership with one of the world’s most esteemed soccer clubs, FC Barcelona. The agreement will see Rakuten become FC Barcelona’s Main Global Partner and its first-ever Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner from the 2017-2018 season, with its name appearing on match-day jerseys.


The partnership will bring together one of the world’s most beloved sporting franchises with a dynamic global company leading the way in e-commerce, communications, digital content and FinTech services for consumers and businesses around the world.

The terms of the agreement were formalized today, in a ceremony at Auditorium 1899 attended by Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Inc. Mr Hiroshi Mikitani, the President of FC Barcelona, Mr. Josep Maria Bartomeu and Vicepresident of Marketing and Media, Mr. Manel Arroyo. It will be ratified at the Club’s Extraordinary meeting of the club members to be held in the coming weeks. The contract term will start from the 2017-2018 season and extend four seasons with an option for an additional fifth season, representing a value of 55 million euros per season.

“As FC Barcelona’s Main Global Partner, Rakuten is set to power our global brand strategy and, as FCB’s first-ever Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner, we are looking to bring the collective power of our brands like Viber, Wuaki, Ebates, Kobo and PriceMinister to build an innovation framework that will deliver innovative solutions and services to fans, members and players,” said Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Inc. “I am very excited about joining the Barça community as I have personally followed the team for decades and have long admired their unique playing style and professionalism, their commitment to success and their culture of nurturing young talent – all values we share at Rakuten.”

Josep Maria Bartomeu, President of FC Barcelona, said, “We are delighted with our agreement with Rakuten, a global brand in innovation whose experience and know-how in the fields of big data, communications and e-commerce will contribute to the future success of FC Barcelona.
“This agreement puts us at the forefront of sports club sponsorships, which have always been an objective for the current Board of Directors. We hope this partnership between Rakuten and FC Barcelona brings unparalleled sporting and commercial success, and helps the club achieve its goal of being a reference point worldwide.”

As the Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner, Rakuten will support the players and delight FC Barcelona fans and members with new initiatives showcasing the company’s technological prowess in messaging, drones, e-commerce, AI and much more. These initiatives will draw on Rakuten’s global resources, including strengths in Europe across companies such as Viber, the mobile messaging and calling app; Wuaki, the video-streaming service established in Barcelona and now available in 12 countries; PriceMinister, one of France’s leading e-commerce sites; and Kobo, a global digital e-reading service now available in 12 European countries. Across the globe, Rakuten companies in Japan and the US, including the Rakuten Ichiba e-commerce marketplace, the US-based shopping cashback service Ebates and OverDrive, a distributor of eBooks to libraries, will also provide invaluable support to the partnership.

Rakuten’s Viber, the global mobile messaging and calling app, will also become FC Barcelona’s Official Communications Channel.

Rakuten’s support of professional sports teams in Japan has led to impressive results. Rakuten owns the Vissel Kobe football club, one of the leading teams in Japan’s professional J-League, and in 2004, established Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, a professional baseball team that went on to win the Japan Series in 2013.

About Rakuten

Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) is one of the world's leading internet services companies, offering a wide variety of services for consumers and businesses with a focus on e-commerce, finance, and digital content. Since 2012, Rakuten has been ranked among the world’s ‘Top 20 Most Innovative Companies’ in Forbes magazine’s annual list. Rakuten is expanding worldwide and currently operates throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 12,000 employees worldwide.
For more information visit //global.rakuten.com/corp/

About FC Barcelona
Established in 1899, FC Barcelona is one of the world's leading football clubs, based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The club has won the Spanish professional football league, La Liga, 24 times and the UEFA Champions League five times. Known affectionately as Barça, the club is owned by an association of some 145,000 supporters.