Huawei has quit its major sponsorship of rugby league club the Canberra Raiders in Australia, decrying the “continued negative business environment” towards the company in the country.
The company, which sponsored the Raiders for almost a decade, signed a new two-year deal to be the main sponsor of the club last year, but will end the deal one year early at the conclusion of the 2020 season.
The name will be relocated to the back of the Raiders’ jersey but Huawei will retain the naming rights for the Raiders Training Centre.
Huawei Australia’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Jeremy Mitchell says it was a tough decision to cancel the deal with the Raiders and alluded to the difficulties faced by Huawei in Australia.
“We are very proud of our major sponsorship of the Raiders and the fact that it lasted for almost ten years shows how successful the partnership has been.
“Ricky Stuart often talks about the importance of the Raiders jersey, what it represents and stands for, Huawei understood that and felt very privileged that our name was part of the Clubs history and part of the Raiders story.
“It is so disappointing that it has ended this way but are very proud of the small role we have played in this great NRL club.
“Our near decade as major sponsor of the Raiders has been one of the most successful in Australian sport and we are very sad that it has come to an end.
“Through our annual charity round Huawei has not only raised much needed funds but has provided a platform for charities to profile their work to millions of Australian they otherwise would not have been able to reach. We are proud of this achievement and the social impact we have made.
“Even after the Turnbull government banned us from 5G we managed to find the resources to continue the sponsorship but we just can’t financially support it any longer.
“We have stuck with the Raiders through the very tough times and they have stuck with us too during our recent tough times, we have formed friendships and memories that will endure forever.
“We now turn our attention to the rest of the 2020 NRL season and hope with all our hearts that the Raiders can go one better and pull off that long awaited Grand Final win this year.
Huawei has been banned from being involved in building Australia’s 5G infrastructure and roll-out due to security concerns over the company’s links to the Chinese Government. In addition, the Australian Government pushed for an independent inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreak and China announced it would raise tariffs on Australian exports including beef and barley.
Raiders CEO Don Furner thanked Huawei for their support after the company chose the Raiders as their first major sporting sponsorship in the world.
“The Canberra Raiders and Huawei have enjoyed a fantastic partnership for nearly a decade – they have been by far our longest serving major sponsor.
“Huawei’s commitment to the Raiders has been unwavering and we have worked together to achieve so much for the Raiders family, Rugby League itself and the broader community with our charity work.
“This relationship has been about so much more than just a logo on a jersey, we have worked with Huawei on a number of very important community initiatives and fundraising opportunities for very worthwhile causes.
“We are very sad that they will be stepping back as major sponsor of the Raiders but we are very proud of all that we have achieved together and we hope we can finish this season off successfully.”
Canberra Raiders head coach Ricky Stuart the partnership between the NRL club and the company “went well beyond simply being a commercial arrangement.
“While some people talk about having strong partnerships, they don’t mean very much until you go through bad times together and back each other up.
“We at the Raiders supported Huawei Australia through a difficult period and Huawei supported us through a very difficult time as well.
“Huawei and the Raiders went well beyond simply being a commercial arrangement, we forged a very strong relationship that became very personal and it is one which we will always be grateful for.”