There are some unfamiliar names for football fans to get to grips with at this year's European championships as China and Azerbaijan cash in, as Axel Threlfall reports.
Some unfamiliar names for football fans to get to grips with at this year's European championships. Not the players. But the advertisers. Heard of Socar? How about Hi Sense? The former is an Azerbaijan energy firm. The latter a Chinese electronics maker, hitherto little known outside its homeland. The sponsorship agreements struck by European football governing body UEFA. Only muted criticism of the Azerbaijan deal, in contrast to Formula One. Motor racing chiefs chided for holding a race in the country, which faces allegations of human rights abuses. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS CHIEF EUROPEAN RETAIL CORRESPONDENT, EMMA THOMASSON, SAYING: "As far as I'm aware, Socar, when they signed the deal with UEFA a few years ago, were paying eighty million euros over four years, and that was the biggest deal that UEFA had done up until that point for national team competitions. UEFA obviously also runs the champions league, and there's a lot of money in that too." The deals help UEFA promote the game in new markets. For the companies, it's a chance to build global awareness of their brands. Plenty of familiar names on view too though. Adidas and Nike continuing their battle for sportswear supremacy. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS CHIEF EUROPEAN RETAIL CORRESPONDENT, EMMA THOMASSON, SAYING: "The additional benefit there for Adidas is that they are one of the official sponsors of UEFA so you see their name on the side of the pitch, they are the official sponsors of the match ball. In fact they said tehy expect to sell seven million of those balls." The rivalry likely to continue right up to the final. Nike making the strip for favourites France. But Adidas in with a good shout. Its logo on shirts for Germany and Spain.