Yingli CEO Liansheng Miao and FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil at the solar energy specialist’s recent renewal ceremony with world football’s governing body. (FIFA)

First-Ever Solar Sponsor for U.S. Soccer

Yingli Green Energy is the first-ever renewable energy sponsor of US Soccer.
“We are looking forward to our new partnership with Yingli Green Energy through 2014,” US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement.
“Working closely with a leading renewable energy company will give us the opportunity to enhance our social and environmental activities through a number of different initiatives over the next few years.”
The partnership took effect with Wednesday’s matchup between Mexico and the US men’s national team.
The Chinese solar specialists recently made headlines by renewing its second-tier sponsorship with FIFA. Yingli will support the Brazil 2014 World Cup after debuting during the 2010 finals.
“This is a special time for soccer in America, when the soccer community is energized about the game’s future,” Yingly CEO Liansheng Miao said in reference to USA’s strong showing in South Africa as well as the country’s recent runner-up finish at the 2011 Women’s World Cup.
“We are similarly excited about the potential for the solar industry, and we are pleased to be partnering with U.S. Soccer to help advance opportunities for both soccer and renewable energy throughout this important market.”

Premier League Promotes Youth Football

The Nike Academy at Loughborough University is going full-time.

The English Premier League announced that the previously part-time program for youth development will round out the responsibilities of its 22-man organisation beginning this season.
Nike has long had inroads in English football. (Premier League)
“The Nike Academy is an excellent example of the growing partnership between the Premier League and Nike,” Premier League football director Mike Foster said in a statement.
“We have worked together now for 11 seasons and over the last few years we have seen the Nike Academy develop into a first class facility for young talent to continue their careers in football.”
Established in 2009, the Nike Academy has played against Barcelona, Celtic and Paris Saint-Germain in past years and has already beaten Cardiff, Racing Genk and Celtic during this off-season.
Also this week, the Premier League announced that its 20 clubs will team together to create a roughly $800,000 fund to provide young footballers in England and Wales with free kits and equipment.
“As someone who benefited from grassroots football I know how important it is to have the right kit and equipment,” Chelsea captain John Terry said in a statement posted to the Premier League’s website.
“Not all kids can have access to that, especially those from deprived areas, but hopefully the Premier League Players’ Kit Scheme can help.”

Rovers Give Away Shirt Sponsorship

Blackburn FC is offering its shirt fronts for free to youth charity The Prince’s Trust.

“The club has enjoyed a strong and productive relationship with The Prince’s Trust since 2005 and this agreement takes that relationship onto another level,” Rovers marketing chief Simon Williams said in a statement posted to the club’s website.

Blackburn has committed to fundraising for the charity, which helps disadvantaged youth, in addition to the shirt sponsorship gift.

“Next Generation” Platform En Route for Football

Football League Interactive has enlisted the help of SapientNitro to develop a “next generation” digital platform for its clubs.

“FLi is proud to be at the vanguard of digital development providing the very best products for the millions of football fans in our network,” FLi chairman Ian Ritchie said in a statement.
“We are extremely excited about working with SapientNitro who will provide the necessary means for us to continue pushing the boundaries of our range of digital platforms.”
SapientNitro beat out more than 25 other tech services firms for the multi-million dollar contract.
Now the company will manage the world’s largest global football network.
FLi draws more than six million unique users each month to its 65 Football League, nine Premier League and 12 non-league websites.

USA’s Women’s Soccer League Goes 3-D

Fans of Women’s Professional Soccer can now get real-time updates on teams, players and matches delivered in 3-D. 

The high-tech initiative is centered around social media applications using an avatar named Karackter to deliver the information.
“We are proud
to partner with Karackter for the beta testing of their new 3D avatar,” WPS CEO Anne-Marie Eileraas said in a statement. 
“So many of our teams, players, fans and supporters are active on social media, and Karackter is a fun and innovative way to stay engaged with WPS.”
According to the software developer, Karackter allows users to stay plugged into the league via Facebook and Twitter without the use of a web browser or email.
WPS wraps up its third year as USA’s top-tier women’s league later this month.

Lucozade Renews with English FA

The official sports drink of the Premier League and the English national team will continue to be one and the same.

The FA announced this week a four-year renewal of its partnership with British energy drink brand Lucozade.

“Lucozade remains a market leader in the field of sports and energy drinks and has an unrivalled heritage of supporting top-flight football and we are delighted to be able to continue our partnership with them,” the FA’s head of business development Sean McAuliffe said in a statement.
“Their continued support and expertise will remain a huge asset to all England teams training and competing at the highest level.”
The sponsorship is of all 24 English national teams. Financial details of the arrangement were not available.

George Michael Confirmed for Wroclaw Stadium Opening

British music icon George Michael is set to perform at the Sept. 17 opening ceremony of Poland’s first retractable-roof stadium.
Construction delays on the $729 million project, a Euro 2012 venue, recently forced the Polish FA to switch a friendly international with Germany scheduled for next month to Gdansk.
Now the stadium is at last set for completion. A motor show at the beginning of September and a boxing match a week later will actually precede Michael’s performance at the so-called “opening ceremony”.

By INSIDER’s Matthew Grayson

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