Chinese telco Huawei has agreed a two-year extension to its contract as the main sponsor of NRL rugby league club Canberra Raiders, saying the deal demonstrates its commitment to Australia amid ongoing challenges outside its home market.
The new deal takes in the 2020 and 2021 NRL seasons, taking the partnership with the Raiders to the 10-season mark – making it one of the longest running commercial partnerships in professional Australian sports.
As part of the deal Huawei will also take over the naming rights of the Canberra Districts Rugby League Centre in Braddon, which will become the future headquarters of the Raiders.
First signed in 2012, the Raiders sponsorship was Huawei’s first major sports partnership, and the connection has also had community benefits.
Working together the two parties have raised over A$200,000 (€122,320/$138,160) for charities including Tour de Cure, Soldier On, Bowel Cancer Australia and the Ricky Stuart Foundation. In addition, Huawei’s sponsorship of the Raiders has helped the club fund its grassroots rugby league programs for young players and their own community programs.
John Lord, chairman of Huawei Australia, said: “This year Huawei is celebrating our 15th year of operating in Australia and the extension of our major sponsorship deal with the Canberra Raiders is a sign of our deep commitment to long-term engagement in the Australian market.
“Although the last year has been a challenging one for us the Raiders have stuck by us as loyal friends and partners and we deeply appreciate their support.”
Don Furner, chief executive of the Canberra Raiders, added: “This relationship is more than just a logo on a jersey, we continue to work with Huawei on a number of very important community initiatives and fundraising opportunities for very worthwhile causes. Additionally, their product inclusions in our new CDRL Centre allow us to be at the forefront of the newest and best technology.”
The Canberra Times said the new contract will be worth more than A$1m per year. It comes after Australia’s coalition government last year banned Huawei from providing 5G equipment in the country as part of an exclusion of companies “likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government.”
However, Furner believes Huawei’s association with the Raiders is hugely significant for the club. He added: “We’ve got a board that’s above reproach. We wouldn’t accept them if we had any concerns. Matters of national security are for the government, we’re an NRL team.
“For them to pick us, little old Canberra, little old Canberra Raiders, and stick with us – it’s massive for us.”