In its continuing effort to bring the UEFA Champions League (UCL) experience closer to more football fans around the world, Heineken has staged its most elaborate Trophy Tour in Africa yet.
The 10-day tour, which ended on April 13 in Abuja, Nigeria, ahead of the 2022 final match on May 28, included several public events that featured the UCL trophy at major stops in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. Fans from Rwanda and Congo Brazzaville also attended the tour in Nigeria and DRC respectively.
“The goal of the Trophy Tour is to inspire a new generation of African footballers and appreciate fans for their love of the UEFA Champions League and Heineken”
The events around the tour included open-truck city parades, novelty matches with local celebrities, UCL quarter final match viewings, fan meet and greets, photo sessions, media rounds, Afrobeats concerts, and visits to government ministries in charge of football.
Heineken, sold in 192 countries around the world, has been a sponsor of the UEFA Champions League since 2005 and the company’s leadership said its Africa-wide trophy tour for the 2021/2022 season was structured to reach 50,000 Africans directly while an estimated 10 million more are reached via media coverage.
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A highlight of the trophy tour was a Heineken-sponsored football match in Lagos, Nigeria. It pitted Nigerian music superstars and football legends against senior staff of Nigerian Breweries, which is the local Heineken brewer, and the Trophy Tour Ambassador, professional coach and former Dutch international midfielder, Clarence Seedorf.
BET Awards-winning Afrobeats star Davido captained Team Nigeria, which had ex-Nigerian internationals Austin Jay Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi, and Taribo West. Also on the squad were rapper M.I. Abaga, R&B singer Darey, and Nigerian Breweries Marketing Director, Emmanuel Oriakhi. Seedorf led Team Heineken, playing, among others, Nigerian Breweries Finance Director, Rob Kleinjan; and the company’s Supply Chain Director, Martin Kochl.
The novelty match preceded an Afrobeats concert that was headlined by African superstar, Davido and Peruzzi, another topflight Nigerian singer. Members of the Heineken management team and Seedorf then met with the Nigerian Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, at the MKO Abiola stadium in Abuja, the country’s capital.
The Union of European Football Associations, the umbrella organisation for 55 national football associations across Europe, organizes the Champions League as an annual competition among top-division football clubs. The 2022 final match is slated for May 28 at the Stade de France in Paris.
“The goal of the Trophy Tour is to inspire a new generation of African footballers and appreciate fans for their love of the UEFA Champions League and Heineken,” said Heineken’s Senior Global Director, Bram Westerbrink.
The continent’s importance to the growth of football and the UCL is evident, Bram also noted. Several European clubs in the English, French, Italian, Spanish, and German leagues have notable African following, with many of the fans organising meetups and celebrations when their favourite teams record tournament successes. With more than 100 Africans currently playing professionally, over 25 Champions League winners from Africa, and about 300 million African fans, football has taken hold as the most popular sport on the continent.
“This is why Heineken is proud to celebrate its association with the UEFA Champions League,” said Hans Erik Tuijt, Director, Global Heineken Sponsorships, adding that Heineken has the highest awareness on the continent as a sponsor of the UEFA Champions League.