RIGA - A huge new sponsorship deal between Nordea bank and the Latvian Football Federation was signed on May 18, making the Latvian premier league the best financially supported soccer league in the Baltics.
The two-year deal was signed at a special press conference by Janis Mezeckis, the general secretary of the LFF, and Valdis Siksnis, the head of Nordea bank in Latvia. It is also the biggest sponsorship deal of any kind in Latvia.
"It's a very important day for all Latvian soccer because we are getting such a reliable and stable partner as Nordea bank. Nordea's international reputation will enable Latvian soccer and soccer players to become better known all over the world," Mezeckis said.
"This investment will be very important in supporting the Latvian Football Federation's main priorities: youth football, infrastructure, the national team and the development of the soccer league," he added.
But neither official was prepared to reveal the exact worth of the deal.
"It may be much less compared to similar deals in Eastern European football federations, so we can only say that, according to our agreement, the amount of Nordea's investment can be up to half a million euros within two years. We intend to work together on joint activities that will help popularize soccer, increase young people's interest and generally encourage the development of soccer in Latvia," said Siksnis.
Nordea is one of the biggest banks in Scandinavia and the Baltics, with some 11 million clients in 22 countries. In stark contrast, the Latvian soccer premier league is one of the smallest in Europe, with just eight teams playing in it. It's also ridiculously monopolized by one team in particular. Skonto FC has won every league title since 1991.
It's hoped that the sponsorship deal will bring some much-needed cash to the grass roots level of the game and help develop youth soccer.
"Nordea will be with the Latvian team before and after Euro 2004. Together we will share the joy of winning and the difficulty of losing. By signing this agreement Nordea is confirming its trust and conviction in the ability of Latvian soccer players," Siksnis said.