Huawei Australia has announced that this season will be their last as the naming rights sponsor of the Canberra Raiders.
A deal signed in 2019 extended Huawei’s sponsorship for two years until the end of the 2021 season, but the company said it would be terminating the deal 12-months early as the “continued negative business environment is having a larger than originally forecasted impact on our planned revenue stream”.
The name will be relocated to the back of the Raiders’ jersey but the Chinese tech giant will retain the naming rights for the Raiders Training Centre.
The move comes against a backdrop of tension between China and Australia after 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.
China has also announced an inquiry into the dumping of Australian wine, which has rocked the industry and created more uncertainty.
Huawei has also been banned from being involved in building Australia’s 5G infrastructure and rollout due to security concerns over the company’s links to the Chinese Government.
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.
“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,” Mr Mitchell said.
“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.
“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.”
Raiders CEO Don Furner thanked Huawei for their support after the company chose the Raiders as their first major sporting sponsorship in the world.
“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,” Mr Furner said.
“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.”
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the departure of the multinational will be difficult for the club in the current market, but the club’s strong on-field performance and off-field administration means they have a running start to find a new sponsor.
Mr Barr conceded it is tough to get multinational sponsors to come to Canberra and that any new sponsorship is likely to be worth a lot less during the current economic downturn.