Real Madrid Breaks up with Russia-Based Sponsor Fonbet

Sports organizations continue to distance themselves from gaming operators in Russia. The latest is Spain’s Real Madrid, which has canceled its sponsorship by sportsbook Fonbet.

Real Madrid soccer players react to a missed opportunity against FC Barcelona in El Clasico. The team’s leadership announced it will discontinue its relationship with Russia-based sportsbook Fonbet. (Image: Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Real Madrid soccer players react to a missed opportunity against FC Barcelona in El Clasico. The team’s leadership announced it will discontinue its relationship with Russia-based sportsbook Fonbet. (Image: Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Real Madrid has called off the sponsorship agreement it had since January of last year with Fonbet, a sportsbook based in Russia and most of the former Soviet republics, together in the Communities of Independent States (CIS).

Although there are no official figures of how much Real Madrid will stop earning after breaking up with the company, close sources consulted by Spanish media outlet El Confidencial figure it at around €1 million (US$1.1 million).

Real Madrid Doesn’t Need Fonbet

Fonbet is the oldest bookmaker in Russia and provided the soccer club with an important presence both in Russia and in the surrounding states. However, Real Madrid chairman Florentino Pérez decided to take a step forward in its position against the invasion of Ukraine.

At the same time, Real Madrid has donated about €1 million to the population displaced by the war through its foundation, which has a project to support refugees with the Red Cross and UNHCR. In addition, it has provided 13,000 items of clothing and recreational material for children.

Fonbet has recently split up with PSG and AC Milan, as well, although it still sponsors the Russian national soccer team and other hockey competitions. The bookmaker has extensive experience in sports sponsorship as a partner of the Russian national soccer team.

It also sponsors the VTB United League, the main basketball league in Eastern Europe, as well as Europe’s leading ice hockey league, the Continental Hockey League. In the latter, Fonbet has been, since 2017, a sponsor of the Ice Hockey World Cups.

Madrid Wins Some, Loses Some

After the departure of Fonbet, Real Madrid reduces its list of regional partners outside Spain to five. Recently, it casually added another betting company, Sportybet, to attack the African market. It also reached agreements with Adobe and Cisco. Last year, however, it lost China’s Citic Bank, which ended three years of alliance.

In other parts of Asia, however, it has two important agreements. One is with KOK Sports, a sponsor for the betting sector in the region. The second is with food company PT Dua Kelinci, with whom it has a contract until 2024. Previously, they had already partnered in the period 2011-2014.

On the other side of the globe, Real Madrid has the support of Repx, an English private equity company, in Latin America. Repx gives the team visibility throughout the region, except in Mexico, where it has Invex Banco as a financial partner.

Real Madrid’s marketing revenue targets for the 2021-2022 season are €324.86 million (US$358.8 million). Its two most important contracts continue to be those with Adidas and Emirates, key in a commercial business that in 2020-2021 contributed €278.48 million (US$307.6 million).

Barcelona Wavers on 1xbet Partnership

For its part, FC Barcelona, which just beat Real Madrid 4-0 in El Clasico yesterday, has as a global sponsor the bookmaker 1XBet. It is based in Russia despite being domiciled in Cyprus. The contract with Barcelona is estimated at almost €9 million (US$9.95 million) a year and has an important advertising presence during the broadcasts.

The partnership began in 2019 as a substitute for Betfair and runs through 2024. For now, the board of directors has not made a decision about breaking the contract. However, some executives publicly acknowledged last week that the board is holding meetings to address this issue.

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