The rise of shirt sponsorships in the 1980s played a crucial role in the globalisation of football, changing the status of clubs from sporting institutions to global organisations. More than the textures, manufacturers, and templates, it is the title sponsor that makes a football jersey truly iconic. When the graphics are done well, it enhances the aesthetics of the football jersey, and that in turn drives up the sales figures. 

Let’s take a look at the 5 most iconic sponsors we’ve seen:

1. Napoli X Mars

There’s a shade of innocence about football in the ’80s that will never fade away. It was the last era of pure unadulterated football played by normal humans who wore their flaws on the field. Diego Maradona snorted cocaine in the streets, partied with notorious gangstas, and won Scudetto with a club whose jersey sponsor was a confectionery brand. These airliners, betting firms, and car manufacturers that now dominate the scene will never match that coolness. 

2.Atletico Madrid X Columbia Pictures

XXX: State of the Union. Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid. Hellboy. Welcome To The Jungle. All of them are good Hollywood movies, and all of them appeared on Atletico Madrid’s jersey. Columbia Pictures signed a two-year deal with Atletico Madrid and treated their football jerseys as promotional billboards. But still, much better than some cryptocurrency brands they have announced as their sponsor for 2022-23. Return back to tradition, Atleti. The new fad in the town is a scam and it’s gonna sink you.

3.Liverpool X Carlsberg

Long before Standard Chartered, Carlsberg used to be the title sponsor for Liverpool for 17 years. Even though the club’s glory days came long after this association ended, Liverpool X Carlsberg is perhaps a reminder that mediocrity is not as bad as motivational gurus have made out to be. Liquor companies never miss a beat when it comes to aesthetics. Carlsberg added a different hue to Liverpool’s iconic red colour, making the players look like a human form of the Bloody Mary cocktail. 

4. Real Madrid X Bwin

If skipping through the barrage of online betting giants was hard, ignoring Real Madrid X Bwin days was even harder. It was unmissable. Real Madrid were counter-attacking monsters, luring the opponents to keep the ball for as long, but once they gained possession, it was all over for the opponents. Much like how their sponsor would lure common people on the pretext of making money, and leave most of them broke.

5. Barcelona X Unicef

Lionel Messi can turn any piece of fabric into a classic. But Unicef X Barcelona was also about Xavi, Iniesta, and Busquets. Camp Nou those days was the experimental space for Pep Guardiola to forge the most perfect team you could ever dream of. 

( Featured Image: Napoli Mars 1 )