Longines & FEI Sign Sponsor Deal Worth At Least $130 Million Over 10 Years

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Princess Haya of the FEI and Nayla Hayek of Longines. © 2013 Sandro Campado/FEI

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Jan. 15–Longines and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) formalized an agreement Tuesday under which the Swiss watch company will spend at least €100 million (US$130 million) over the next 10 years as the first top partner for global horse sports that ranks it among the most important sport sponsorship deals.

FEI President Princess Haya and Mrs. Nayla Hayek, chair of the board of the Swatch Group that owns Longines, signed the agreement that is the biggest partnership deal ever brokered by the FEI to make Longines the Official Timekeeper and Official Watch of the FEI.

Princess Haya described the deal as valued at “nine digits” over 10 years that would make it at least €100 million while some unconfirmed estimates place it substantially higher.

The deal puts the Longines name on the FEI World Rider Rankings for Jumping, official timekeeper of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup from 2013 onwards, the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018 and 2022 as well as title sponsor of the FEI World Endurance Championships in 2016 and 2020.

Longines will also be the new title sponsor of the FEI World Cup Jumping when the 2013/2014 season starts in October of this year and will also support an FEI television magazine program.

Longines has been a sponsor of some of the top Grand Prix, several coupled with Top League Nations Cups in Europe, and has been involved with equestrian sport since 1881.

Rolex, another Swiss watch company, has been the sponsor of the jumping riders’ rankings, World Cup jumping leagues and the final, the 2014 WEG in Normandy, France as well as numerous individual events such as at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen,Germany, the Winter Equestrian Festival and Global Dressage Festival in Florida and the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.

It is not known how this deal will impact the Rolex sponsorship deals, but Mrs. Hayek stressed that Longines will be the exclusive sponsor for the events that are owned out of the 3,200 competitions sanctioned by the FEI each year.

Both Princess Haya and Mrs. Hayek stressed the deal will impact all seven disciplines governed by the FEI–dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining and vaulting plus para equestrian–but only jumping and endurance events were mentioned.

A key element of the partnership is a significant investment by Longines in the development by both parties of cutting-edge time-keeping and data-handling services, including the related technology, specifically for equestrian sport. The development of these services will be for multimedia applications use, giant screens, scoreboards, and for broadcasters as part of the presentation of FEI events around the world.

“The revolutionary development of new technology by Longines will be a fantastic tool to promote our sport and make it easier to understand for a whole new audience,” Princess Haya said. “This new agreement will undoubtedly take our sport to a new level, capitalizing on the huge new fan base generated by the Olympic equestrian events in London last summer. We could not be more excited about this new partnership.”

Mrs. Hayek said, “This partnership marks a giant step for Longines in the field of equestrian sports. It reinforces the traditional and long-lasting commitment of Longines in equestrian sports and makes the brand a major player in this field.

“Longines is not only a partner but also, and on the top of it, a service provider. Guaranteeing the quality and reliability of the timekeeping is a key aspect of our partnership with the FEI. We are looking forward to being involved in the great events organized by the FEI. This multi-faceted partnership also provides us with a great platform to strengthen the Longines brand presence worldwide.”

She said the 10-year agreement is the first step–“I believe it will go, we can do so much together. It’s important we can support sport that does it’s best to be clean for horses and riders and do the best for the audience.” She also foreshadowed programs to increase the spectator base.

“If you have two people watching I don’t think this is sport,” she said.