Football sponsorship in Asia

Football dominates sport sponsorship investment in Asia, accounting for almost 31 percent of all sport sponsorship sold in 2022 across the continent. In the same year, 94.5 percent (USD1,540.8m) of Asia’s football sponsorship investment came from just four countries: Japan, China, South Korea and Thailand plus ‘Pan-Asia’.

Football’s proportion of total sport sponsorship differs from country to country, with Thailand seeing the highest percentage (55.2 percent) and China the lowest (28.7 percent).

Football sponsorship in Asia enjoyed a remarkable recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, achieving investment in 2022 almost at the 2019 level, after a slump in 2021 of almost -40 percent. This noteworthy recovery followed on from a greater-than-usual focus on Asian football heading into 2022, owing to a variety of factors.

Among them, a record six Asian teams qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2022. Asia hosted the AFC Women’s Asian Cup and FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup. Japan, after wins against World Cup giants Germany and Spain in the group stages, finished top of its group and qualified for the round of 16 knockouts. Looking forward to 2023, the FIFA Women’s World Cup was to be held in Asia-Pacific, promising to maintain the already high profile of Asian football.

Football sponsorship’s overall 2022 investment conceals marked differences amongst the ‘Top 5’. While Japan (-22 percent), China (-24 percent) and Thailand (-25 percent) were down compared to pre-pandemic 2019, South Korea (+39 percent) and Pan-Asia (+66 percent) achieved considerable improvement. Football having overtaken baseball as the country’s favourite sport would have influenced South Korea’s investment, while the heightened popularity of football in Asia during 2022 – combined with Asia’s love affair with European tier-one football – gave rise to an increase in lucrative deals with top northern hemisphere clubs.

2022 saw no change in the pecking order of sponsorship categories, with financial services remaining at the top, largely due to major sponsorship deals such as Standard Chartered (Liverpool FC), AIA (Tottenham Hotspur FC) and Meiji Yasuda (the J. League). The next four categories were apparel, automobile, technology and retailer – all five accounting for 57 percent of total football sponsorship in Asia.

Asian football sponsorship investment of USD1,630m in 2022 was derived from 1,700 different brands. The top five accounted for 23 percent of the market, while the next 20 brands added another 24 percent.

Standard Chartered, Spotify, SWM Motors, Adidas and Toyota all invested more in 2022 than their 2019-22 average, while the remaining leading sponsors cut back their investment. Standard Chartered, with its USD60m investment in Liverpool FC replaced Nike as the top football sponsor in 2022.

The top sponsoring brands in 2022 were:

Sponsor Country/Area Value
US$ (000)
% of total
Standard Chartered Pan-Asia 115.6 6.4%
Nike Asia-wide 79.9 4.4%
Spotify Pan-Asia 70.0 3.9%
SWM Motors China 56.8 3.1%
Adidas Asia-wide 53.9 3.0%
Toyota Asia-wide 52.9 2.9%
Ping An China 52.8 2.9%
AIA Asia-wide 52.2 2.9%
King Power Thailand 25.9 1.4%
NTT Docomo Japan 19.0 1.0%

These 10 brands contributed just over 36 percent of the total football sponsorship investment in Asia.

The football world’s eyes were on Asia in 2022 – and they haven’t gone away, largely owing to the long-awaited emergence on the international stage of football in Asia. Japan has made major strides forward.

Apart from its giant-beating performance in the 2022 World Cup, the country’s J. League has expanded country-wide to 60 members across three divisions, while 19 of Japan’s 26 World Cup players currently play for European clubs.

At the same time, football has just become the most popular sport in South Korea, knocking baseball off its pedestal while, according to David Hutt writing in, there are signs that Southeast Asian football is finally showing some progress too, after years of under-performance.

All the signs point to the potential for football sponsorship in Asia going from strength to strength. We are unlikely to see it challenged for the top platform spot any time soon.

ASN released its Football Asia Market Analysis 2023 report at The Business Of Football conference in Manila, Philippines on 10 November 2023.

ASN is the leading market intelligence service for the sponsorship industry in Asia, which distributes independent news, analytics and insights on a subscription basis, with a bespoke consultancy and training service.

ASN is operated by Asia Sponsorship News Co., Ltd. a subsidiary of Paul Poole (South East Asia) Co., Ltd.

Paul Poole (South East Asia) Co., Ltd. is an independent marketing consultancy based in Bangkok, Thailand specialising in commercial sponsorship and partnership marketing, working with both rights holders and brands - acting as a catalyst by bringing them together and maximising the relationship.

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