March 25, 2014 / 3:03 PM / 5 years ago

Airline Etihad to sponsor MLS

Members of the Major League Soccer (MLS) club New York Red Bulls practice in the Red Bulls Arena during a team workout in Harrison, New Jersey, March 16, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar

LONDON (Reuters) - Gulf airline Etihad Airways signed a long-term sponsorship deal with Major League Soccer in the United States on Tuesday, building on its involvement in the sport in England.

The Abu Dhabi-based company has raised its profile in Britain by sponsoring the shirt and stadium of leading English Premier League club Manchester City.

“Etihad Airways has a growing portfolio of sports properties that cover the globe and we’re delighted to now add Major League Soccer, a leading international sports brand, to this group,” Etihad CEO James Hogan said in a statement.

City, owned by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour, have joined forces with baseball’s New York Yankees to launch New York City Football Club which will play in the MLS next year.

Middle East airlines are spending heavily on sports sponsorship to supplement their marketing.

Dubai’s Emirates sponsors Spanish soccer club Real Madrid, while rivals Barcelona have the Qatar Airways name on their shirts.

Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Ed Osmond

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