In addition to financial support, Mastercard will also integrate itself into the league’s fan-experience efforts, launching NWSL-specific offerings for customers on Priceless.com, the experiences and discounts platform available to cardholders. On-site events and VIP experiences at league games are also part of those plans.
The deal extends beyond the pitch as well, with Mastercard creating a soccer and NWSL-themed curriculum for its STEM education program developed for middle school-aged girls called Girls4Tech. The company will also dedicate resources to educating NWSL players on their own financial wellness.
“This new partnership with Mastercard is yet another indication of the strong appetite for women’s soccer that exists in the sports and entertainment community,” NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said. “Mastercard and NWSL [share] the common goal of sowing and strengthening a passion for women’s sport. We are both deeply committed to providing a stage to showcase our incredible athletes as well as a top-tier fan experience that both fortifies the passion of current women’s soccer enthusiasts and opens a door for new fans to experience the game.”
The league’s ninth regular season kicks off on Saturday, following a successful second iteration of the Challenge Cup tournament, which ended on last weekend with Portland Thorns FC winning the championship on penalties.
In addition to becoming a league sponsor, Mastercard has signed Portland defender and USWNT player Crystal Dunn as a global ambassador. Dunn, a World Cup champion and the league’s 2015 MVP, will join an impressive group of Mastercard-sponsored female athletes, including tennis phenom Naomi Osaka, Australian soccer star Sam Kerr, Norwegian soccer player Ada Hegerberg and Hall of Fame golfer Annika Sorenstam.
“With this partnership, we have the ability to reach so many people of different backgrounds through one common passion: soccer,” said Mastercard chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar. “This is a great opportunity for us to get closer to consumers by curating experiences that enhance the things they love most. This partnership supports our company goals, from our gender balance objectives, to driving consumer engagement, and connecting with a new passionate fanbase … the list goes on.”
The company’s investment in women’s sports also includes teams, such as Arsenal W.F.C. in the Women’s Super League (the top tier of English women’s football), and French women’s football club Olympique Lyonnais Feminin. The company is also an official sponsor of the Australian Open tennis tournament and the LPGA Tour’s British major, the AIG Women’s Open.
Mastercard is among a growing group of NWSL national sponsors, including 2021 newcomers Nationwide, the league’s first official insurance partner, and Ally, its first official banking partner and a league-wide sleeve sponsor. The trio of recent additions join the league’s returning supporters: Budweiser, women’s deodorant brand Secret, Nike and Verizon, as well as CBS, Twitch and digital radio partner iHeartMedia on the media side.
“Our sponsors’ contributions to the league … most importantly allow us to deliver an experience that our athletes and fans deserve,” Baird said, noting that the financial support from corporate partners helps fund player bonuses, community service initiatives and fan experiences. “The partnerships we’ve forged are enormously impactful for our league. Not only do they ensure the strength of the NWSL, but they also serve as a sign of the momentum our sport has right now.”