ThaiBev unveils 'unprecedented' deal with fierce Spanish rivals Madrid and Barcelona

ThaiBev has surprised the football world by tying down arguably the game's two fiercest rivals, Real Madrid and Barcelona, in three-year deals worth Bt500 million.

After blazing a trail for Thai companies by becoming the first to back an English football club with its shirt sponsorship of Everton seven years ago, Chang beer-maker ThaiBev has now moved on the world's other top league with a "unique" partnership.

ThaiBev's deals with the two La Liga outfits represent a first, bringing together what are arguably world football's two greatest rivals, with 13 Uefa Champions League trophies between them.

The conference to announce the deal was held amid much fanfare at Siam Paragon Shopping Mall, with the two sets of supporters sitting separately on makeshift stands, cheering on the "action".

The biggest cheers came when former stars Fabio Cannavaro, who played for Real Madrid between 2006 and 2009, and Edgar Davids, who had a brief spell with Barcelona, emerged from a makeshift players' tunnel and made their way to the stage.

Spanish Ambassador Ignacio Sagaz hailed the partnership and hoped it would bring the two countries closer.

"This is possibly the first time in history that Real Madrid and Barcelona are together in the same partnership. I think only Chang could do that," said Sagaz.

"You know how important football is to Spain. We're the world and European champions, while Barcelona and Real Madrid are among the best teams in the world. Barca won everything last year but this year Real look set to win La Liga while they are also strong contenders for the Champions League.

"It's important to Thailand that [ThaiBev] has shown the vision to partner with these two teams. I believe sport is the best way to make friends and I'm confident that with the partnership the people of our two countries will be closer,"

Sorrakrit Latitham, ThaiBev's marketing manager, revealed that the company had already lined up a series of activities for football fans including a trip to watch the "Clasico" match between the two clubs at Barcelona's home ground, Camp Nou, in April.

He also hinted that local fans might get the chance to see one of the teams' superstar players in the flesh this year.

"We have already started negotiations to bring one of them to Thailand. I think we should get good news on the matter soon," said Sorrakit, who also confirmed the company would continued their commitment with Everton.
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