sport

Record sponsorship for FEI

Equestrian's governing body on Tuesday announced the biggest sponsorship deal in its history.

The Federation Equestre International (FEI) has agreed a 10-year partnership with Swiss watchmaker Longines.

It is a record multi-million euro deal, worth what the FEI describe as "a nine-digit euro sum".

Longines will replace Rolex as title sponsor of the FEI World Cup showjumping series later this year, in addition to assuming official timekeeping duties for the Nations Cup, World Equestrian Games in 2018 and 2022 and becoming World Endurance Championship title sponsor for 2016 and 2020.

In a statement, Rolex described the FEI's decision to end their agreement as "disappointing".

"Today is a truly historic day for the FEI and for equestrian sport," FEI president HRH Princess Haya said.

"Longines and the FEI share a passion for horses, and this long-term agreement more than proves Longines' commitment to our sport.

"The revolutionary development of new technology by Longines will be a fantastic tool to promote our sport and make it easier to understand for a whole new audience.

"This new agreement will undoubtedly take our sport to a new level, capitalising on the huge new fan base generated by the Olympic equestrian events in London last summer. We could not be more excited about this new partnership."

Rolex, meanwhile, underlined its continued commitment to equestrian sport, despite Tuesday's announcement.

"Rolex has been a long-standing supporter of equestrianism since the late 1950s and is proud of the contribution it has made to the consequential growth in popularity and international expansion of the sport," the company said.

"Those implicated at the highest levels, from event organisers to riders, have consistently expressed their gratitude for, and appreciation of, Rolex's dedication and commitment.

"Despite this substantial support and after many years of loyal partnership between Rolex and the FEI, the FEI made the disappointing decision to end its relationship with our company and choose another watchmaking sponsor.

"As a major force at play in this exceptional domain, Rolex nevertheless remains as committed as ever and looks forward to perpetuating its unique and lasting contribution to equestrianism around the world."