The fit between video games and sports teams seems like a natural one. In many ways it’s remarkable we haven’t seen more games developers and console creators splashing their wares across the front of teams all over the world, but in the meantime we may as well cherish the ones we have been given.
While the 1990’s and 2000’s boom in video games undoubtably sparked the golden age of game sponsorships a number survived into the 2010’s and beyond.
We’ve picked out ten of our favourites to have a look at today, from one game wonders to some of the most iconic sponsors the game has ever seen. We've very much come to the conclusion that video games might just be the best genre of sponsor.
Fiorentina + Nintendo 1997-99
When it comes to iconic video game sponsorships there’s only one place to start. It’s hard to imagine the partnership only lasted two years, during which they Fiorentina didn’t even win anything. They did, however, have Batistuta and one of the leagues best kits.
Jef United + SEGA (& Sonic) 1993
While several teams have carried the SEGA sponsor, Japanese side JEF United really went above and beyond in including an actual Sonic the Hedgehog on their shirts for the 1993 season.
Sevilla + Super Nintendo 1992-93
As worn during Diego’s only season in southern Spain, it’s fair to say there were a lot of eyes on Sevilla during the 92/93 season. After a tumultuous year for player and club there is little doubt the real winners of the season were Nintendo and their new Super Nintendo console.
Wimbledon + Football Manager 2002
Sports Interactive, the company who produce the Football Manager game series, have been AFC Wimbledon's shirt sponsor since the clubs reformation in 2002. The partnership is now one of the longest running anywhere in football.
Atletico Madrid GK + Tamagotchi 1996-97
During the 96/97 Atleti we’re sponsored by Japanese toy and video game manufacturer, Bandai. Fairly run of the mill stuff but the excitement really comes from the fact that Atleti’s keeper, José Molina, proudly wore the name of Bandai subsidiary, tamagotchi, across his chest.
Lyon + Atari 2001-02
For the 01/02 season only, Lyon carried the sponsor of video game developer Atari on the chest of their third shirts. It turned out to be a pretty good year as Lyon claimed the title on the final day with a win over Lens.
Sampdoria + Dreamcast 1999-00
At the turn of the millennium, Japanese console manufacturer Saga pushed there Dreamcast console with a number of tie-ins with Europe’s biggest clubs. In England it was Arsenal, in France St Etienne, Spain had Depor and in Italy it was Sampdoria. A somewhat curious decision considering that in its first two years of release the Dreamcast had practically no football games.
Seattle Sounders + XBOX 2009-2018
The partnership between Microsoft’s XBOX and Seattle Sounders began when the Sounders entered the MLS back in 2009 and lasted for almost a decade. The design shifted over the years with updating XBOX consoles and promotions as well as occasionally displaying game specific ads for the likes of Halo 5 and Gears of War 4.
Auxerre + PlayStation 2 2001-2005
Another case of a classic sponsor coinciding with a classic team. In total PlayStation sponsored Auxerre from 2001 till 2005, a period that would see them lift two Coupe de France titles with a young squad that included the likes of Djibril Cisse and Philippe Mexes.
Lazio + Pro Evolution Soccer 2009
Quite possibly the rarest of all video game sponsored shirts, Lazio carried the sponsorship for one game only back in 2009. Konami certainly saw the tie in as historic with their accompanying press release "Thanks to the partnership with Lazio, PES 2009 breaks a new record as it's the first video game to become the main sponsor of a team for one game in the Serie A Championship.” Not sure that counts as a record but it’s certainly one way to spin it.
Words by Andy Gallagher