Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry.
FIFA Appoints New Chief Business Officer
FIFA has hired Romy Gai as chief business officer, taking over from Kay Madati, the current chief commercial officer, who will depart the organization in the coming months for personal reasons. Romy joins FIFA from AWE International Group, where he had been Chairman since 2015. Prior to AWE spent 14 years as chief revenue officer & marketing director and CEO Assistant at Juventus FC in Italy, and a period as CEO of the UAE Football League (UFL) in the United Arab Emirates. Madati will remain on board until the end of June 2022 to manage the transition period.
Excel Sports Management Names Three to Management Team
Excel has added three executives to it management team. Will Petok joins as senior manager, media talent. A sports broadcasting agent at ICM Partners, Petok will report to Gideon Cohen, senior vice president, media talent. Brody Mankus will be a senior manager, orporate partnerships after working in premium development at BSE Global and will report to Preetam Sen, vice president, properties. Ethan Back, a former associate at Loeb & Loeb LLP, comes onboard as associate corporate counsel and report to Gabe Matus, general counsel. All three will be based in the New York office.
M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment Moves Into Events
Communications agency M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment North America has launched an events and experiential production division led by the recently hired Amanda Dawson as senior producer. Dawson will oversee the creation of one-to-one moments, large-scale consumer engagement opportunities, and everything in between. This new division will work with the existing layers of the agency to deliver expanded creative-communications services, strengthening the integration between various levels of creative and strategic assignment to improve effectiveness and impact.
Activision Blizzard Appoints Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer
Activision Blizzard has appointed Kristen Hines as its chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, effective Monday, April 25. Hines will report to Julie Hodges, chief people officer, and will join the company’s senior leadership team. Hines joins Activision Blizzard from Accenture where she most recently led the Global Inclusion, Diversity and Equity practice, and sat on the firm’s global leadership team for the CEO Transformation practice. Hines will also partner across all gaming teams to ensure diverse and inclusive perspectives are included in game design, including storylines, character development, gameplay and community interaction.
Heir Accelerates Growth With New Executive Hires
Heir, the personalized Web 3.0 community platform for athletes and fans, has hired Azza Elsheikh has joined the company as head of product, Norman Cheng as head of engineering and Brian Davison as vice president of partnerships.
Anheuser-Busch’s Starts ‘National Recycling League’ to Limit Game-Day Waste
Anheuser-Busch is uniting its sports team partners–including MLB and the NFL– to launch the National Recycling League: a new, multi-sports league coalition aiming to reduce waste on game day. The National Recycling League aims to raise awareness of the need for recycling and drive key recycling behaviors among consumers. More than 10 MLB teams have signed on as inaugural members of the National Recycling League, adopting and implementing a range of activations aimed at reducing waste and improving recycling rates at stadiums. The company plans to repeat the program during the 2022 NFL season.
FIBA Has Appointed IMG as Global Master Licensee Of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023
As part of a recently inked deal IMG will work with FIBA to develop an extensive range of merchandising products featuring the event logo, its brand identity and marks etc. The agreement will include products in key licensing categories such as apparel, toys and games, souvenirs, accessories, stationery, homeware, bags and luggage, and more. The World Cup takes place from Aug. 25–Sept. 10, 2023, in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. 2023 is first time in the history of the competition that multiple countries will host the global tournament, which will feature 32 national teams. The US has won two of the last three FIBA World Cups.
OnePlan, Events and Venues Software, Raises Additional $5.3M
OnePlan has raised an additional $5.3M funding from Pembroke VCT and Eppes Creek Ventures, its Series A investors. The new funding comes as OnePlan has been chosen as the Official Supporter of GIS Mapping and Digital Twin Software for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. OnePlan is event planning software that enables teams to map, plan and manage their events, together. Event organizers can visually plan with pinpoint accuracy and collaborate with colleagues, partners, broadcasters, suppliers and local authorities in real-time, establishing a single source of truth for all stakeholders. Its metaverse Venue Twin solution unlocks operational and commercial benefits through a hyper-realistic, fly-through-able digital twin of any stadium or arena. OnePlan has been used by over 8,000 events and venues in 100+ countries including music festivals, road events and sports organizations.
A Shoc Energy Raises $29 Million in Series B Round with All-Star Roster
Performance energy drink A Shoc Energy closed a $29 million Series B funding round led by investments from existing investors, strategic participants, prominent athletes and celebrities to fuel the rapid growth of the brand. A Shoc continues to evolve the energy category with natural ingredients. The round included participation from Bryson DeChambeau, Aaron Judge (Baseball), Brooks Koepka (Golf), Freddie Freeman (Baseball), Chase Young (Football), Chase Elliott (NASCAR), Paul Rodriguez (Skateboarding), Lexi Thompson (Golf), and Michael Strahan (Football TV Personality). A Shoc Energy was founded in California in 2019 to evolve the energy drink category with a functional beverage that has natural ingredients. The funding will go toward expanding A Shoc Energy’s national sales team, executing its partnerships with Thrill One and Chase Elliott/Hendrick Motorsports, creating and distributing digital content with its strategic sports and entertainment partners, and continuing to innovate the product.
Athletes Unlimited Issues First Public Benefit Report as the Only B Corp in Professional Sports
Athletes Unlimited has become the first professional sports league to organize as a public benefit corporation (PBC) after publishing of its inaugural Public Benefit Corporation report, highlighting progress and sharing commitments to support its athletes. Since its founding in March 2020, Athletes Unlimited launched four professional women’s sports leagues—softball, volleyball, lacrosse, and basketball.
The Beard Club Welcomes NBA Star James Harden as Investor and Brand Champion
The Beard Club, the company that delivers a curated toolkit of premium, beard-first men’s grooming essentials, has partnered James Harden, who joins the team as an investor and brand champion. In this role, Harden will partner with The Beard Club to advance brand awareness and bring fresh perspective and style to beard grooming and beyond.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and PointsBet Canada Announce New Partnership
PointsBet Canada and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment have agreed to a new multi-year agreement that would see PointsBet become an Official Sports Betting Partner of MLSE’s professional teams: Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), Toronto Marlies (AHL), Toronto Raptors (NBA), Toronto Argonauts (CFL), and Toronto FC (MLS).
Block Sports Partners with Premier Rugby Sevens
Blok Sports, the peer-to-peer sports betting platform that leverages blockchain technology, announced a partnership with Premier Rugby Sevens. Through a decentralized betting exchange, Blok Sports’ technology allows fans to securely place wagers on PR7s’ events directly with friends. The partnership is the first of its kind for a U.S.-based sports league. Bloksports.bet is licensed in several international markets and is working towards licenses in the U.S. on a state-by-state basis. Blok Sports is backed by several sports-tech investors, including NFL legends Marshawn Lynch and Andre Reed.