Dubai: Emirates airline will sponsor North American Soccer League (NASL) side New York Cosmos for a further two years, it was announced at Emirates headquarters in Dubai on Sunday.
Footballing legend Pelé, who is an honorary president of the club, was present for the announcement at a packed press conference. Although Emirates’ shirt sponsorship only began in June 2013, the reformed New York Cosmos have become the airline’s most successful team in the past year, winning the NASL’s Fall Championship and Soccer Bowl.
“It would seem the Emirates’ magic has worked again,” said Shaikh Majid Al Mualla, the airline’s divisional senior vice-president of commercial operations. “The New York Cosmos’ progress is nothing short of meteoric and the extension of our sponsorship agreement enables this wonderful journey with Emirates to continue. As our cabin crew say ‘Welcome back on board’.”
New York Cosmos chairman Seamus O’Brien said: “We are honoured to be associated with such a world-class brand. This agreement underlines how much both organisations value this relationship and the new deal reaffirms Emirates’ belief in what we are trying to achieve at the Cosmos.”
Pele, who represented the team between 1975 and 1977 scoring 31 goals in 56 appearances said: “Emirates has played a big part in the reboot of the New York Cosmos. It’s wonderful that they’ll play a key role in the team’s future too and that we remain part of the Emirates’ soccer family.”
The New York Cosmos team, who arrived in Dubai last week for a training visit, have also been seeing some of the city’s tourist attractions, including the Burj Khalifa and Palm Jumeirah, as well as enjoying a desert adventure with Arabian Adventures, the destination management wing of the Emirates Group.
After the press conference, Pelé, a Global Ambassador for Emirates, provided a once in a lifetime opportunity for those present at the airline’s HQ by talking through some of the greatest moments of his remarkable career. Amongst them, being part of the winning Brazilian team at the 1958 World Cup at the age of just 17 and his first visit to Dubai in 1973.
“Emirates has laid on an unforgettable double-bill for invited guests and the media — first, the New York Cosmos press conference and then this unique session with Pelé personally sharing some of the moments that have defined his glittering career,” Shaikh Majid said. “And the really good news for our customers is that this special screening will be available for millions to watch on our award winning in-flight ice entertainment system.”
Pelé will kick off the 2014 home season with the New York Cosmos when he joins the team in New York for their match against the Atlanta Silverbacks on April 13.