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MLS swaps PepsiCo for Coca-Cola in new deal

Major League Soccer has signed its latest major sponsorship deal, with Coca-Cola replacing long-serving PepsiCo as the non-alcoholic beverage partner of the North American league and the U.S. Soccer organisation.

The four-year deal will commence with the US men’s national team’s friendly against Mexico in San Antonio on Wednesday. Pepsi has partnered MLS since its formation in 1996, but its contract expired in December and Coca-Cola has signed the new deal with Soccer United Marketing, the league’s commercial arm.

Coca-Cola already has a relationship with US women’s star Alex Morgan, and along with MLS its rights package will include the US national teams and Mexico’s games in the US.

“Why now? I think ’Why not before?’ would be an equally appropriate question,” Ivan Pollard, senior vice-president of investment, connections and assets for Coca-Cola North Americas, told the Bloomberg news agency. “The sport’s had a real burgeoning growth, and the domestic game and national teams are really attracting young fans.”

The Coca-Cola deal represents MLS’s fourth major partnership this year after recently striking multi-year deals with snack foods company Mondelez, the consumer division of Johnson & Johnson and German automotive manufacturer Audi.