By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — On the eve of the Women’s World Cup, U.S. Soccer has extended its partnership with Visa for the next five years. As part of the agreement announced Tuesday, Visa again vowed that 50% of investment will go towards programs surrounding the U.S. women’s national team and women’s soccer initiatives.
The deal ensures Visa’s ongoing involvement in the SheBelieves Cup international tournament in the United States each year. The financial services company is the tournament’s presenting sponsor.
“It’s very aligned with our focus on sports but more importantly, with our focus on women and ensuring that women really do get equality,” said Mary Ann Reilly, head of North America marketing for Visa.
The sponsorship also comes as the United States is set to host the 2026 men’s World Cup with Mexico and Canada.
“We’ve actually done more with the U.S. women’s team from a SheBelieves Cup perspective, but I think it’s a huge opportunity for U.S. soccer,” Reilly said about the 2026 World Cup. “As a mom who has a daughter who played competitive soccer, it’s a game that has not really reached the heights that it has in other countries, and I think it really has the potential to do so. So we’re really excited to help to bring the World Cup to the U.S. and North America.”
When a U.S. player wins a Player of the Match award at the Women’s World Cup, Visa will award a grant to small businesses owned by women in the athlete’s hometown or market. The grant fund is $500,000.
The tournament, hosted by New Zealand and Australia, kicks off on Thursday. The U.S. women are vying for their third-straight title. Visa is also a global partner of the Women’s World Cup.
Other aspects of the sponsorship include fan experiences around U.S. Soccer matches and collaborations with women-owned companies.
In addition to its role as presenting sponsor, Visa also sponsors the SheBelieves Cup MVP award. The company has pledged a $25,000 grant to a women-owned business on behalf of the winning player.