United Soccer League signs a four-year sponsorship deal with a cannabis company

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There will be plenty of footsy going on between the United Soccer League (USL) and CBD hemp brand Synchronicity as part of a new four-year sponsorship deal.

Functional Remedies, makers of the full-spectrum hemp oil brand, can look forward to seeing the products featured on USL stadium signage, social media channels, website and app network, according to Ganjapreneur.

With 47 professional clubs in the U.S. and Canada, 180-plus amateur and youth clubs and its championship and League One broadcast by ESPN, the USL “is the largest and fastest-growing professional soccer organization in North America,” notes the website of the Tampa, Fla.-based organization.

“This partnership is not only pioneering in the space, but also takes into consideration the wellness and recovery of our athletes and fans,” Josh Keller, senior vice president of corporate development and partnerships for USL, told Ganjapreneur.

“This is beyond a sponsorship for us, it’s an opportunity to continue to educate consumers on the incredible benefits of full-spectrum hemp oil and spread the message of wellness through oneness,” said Functional Remedies CEO Andrew Campbell, adding that athletes are adopting CBD products into their regimen.

Professional and amateur athletes, both current and former, are growing increasingly vocal about the need for sports leagues to open their minds to the potential benefits of cannabis and its compounds.

From left to right, kayaking World and Olympic champion Adam van Koeverden, moderator for the Athletes in Practice: Recovery + Care panel; Robert Frid, former professional hockey player and executive director of Medicinal My Way; Mike Mihelic, former CFL offensive lineman and now CEO of Cannascribe, Inc.; Muay Thai fighter Angelina Blessed, founder and CEO of Blessed Edibles; CrossFit athlete Lorilynn McCorrister, president and co-founder of Weedbox; and Muay Thai fighter Richard Pham. / Photo: Business of Cannabis Business of Cannabis

At a cannabis event last year in Toronto, athletes involved in sports ranging from hockey to football, Muay Thai and kayaking offered their personal stories and experiences with using cannabis-related products. The reasons for using the products were many, including recovery, addressing the effects of past injuries, performance, anxiety, sleep and pain.

Earlier this month, a number of sources reported the Major Soccer League was on the cusp of allowing CBD as an approved sponsorship category. The move, seen as commercial revenue generator, could get the green light by the end of the 2020 season, according to Sports Business Journal Daily.

COVID-19 has hit countless industries, sports among them, very hard. But even starting last year, MLS franchises were given approval to “market sponsorships in the betting and spirits category,” the publication reports.

FILE: Michael Shenton of Castleford Tigersis tackled by Matthew Russell of Toronto Wolfpack during the Betfred Super League match between Toronto Wolfpack and Castleford Tigers at Emerald Headingley Stadium on Feb. 02, 2020 in Leeds, England. / Photo: George Wood/Getty Images / Photo: George Wood/Getty Images

Some sports teams are tiptoeing around CBD, while others seem to be diving in. For example, the Toronto Wolfpack announced last year that it plans to release a line of CBD-infused topical creams, NuWu Cannabis Marketplace, owned and operated by the Las Vegas Paiute tribe, has an advertising partnership with the Las Vegas Lights.

Then again, there are plenty of leagues that are staying out of the mix entirely. The Major League Baseball, somewhat reluctantly, recently agreed that players using cannabis away from the field is now okay. But that doesn’t mean it supports allowing athletes to endorse cannabis-related products.

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