Volkswagen of America, Inc., Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing, MLS’s marketing arm, today announced a new multi-year partnership. The agreement renews Volkswagen’s status as the Official Automotive partner of Major League Soccer. Volkswagen has been an MLS partner since 2008.

“After a very successful first year, Volkswagen is pleased to extend its sponsorship of Major League Soccer,” said Tim Ellis, Vice President of Marketing, Volkswagen of America, Inc.

“Globally, Volkswagen has been a long-time supporter of soccer. The relationship with MLS strengthens our connection with our target consumers in the U.S. market, particularly families, sports fans and multicultural audiences. Additionally, MLS’s aggressive expansion plans closely align with Volkswagen of America’s long-term growth strategy.”

As an official partner of Major League Soccer, Volkswagen will receive rights in the United States which deliver value across live in-stadium, grassroots and national television audiences, allowing Volkswagen the ability to continue to enhance consumer experiences around their passion for the sport.

The agreement includes utilisation of Volkswagen’s fleet of vehicles for MLS special events and league operations, player appearances, intellectual property, content generation platforms, national in-stadium exposure, on-site activation at select MLS games and continuation of Volkswagen’s entitlement of the MLS MVP awards, including full season, MLS All-Star and MLS Cup recipients. In addition to developing new, unique national grassroots programming in partnership with MLS and SUM, Volkswagen will also be a sponsor of existing MLS grassroots initiatives including MLS Futbolito and Sueno MLS.

“Major League Soccer is excited to partner with Volkswagen, a company that is synonymous with excellence and innovation,” said Kathy Carter, Executive Vice President of Soccer United Marketing. “Volkswagen has made a long-term commitment to the sport of soccer in this country and we look forward to working together as we both grow our business.”

Volkswagen also continues in its role as presenting partner of D.C. United, exclusively featured on the front of D.C. United’s jersey, as well as partnering with the club on numerous other club and in-stadium marketing programs, helping support United’s passionate fan base in the D.C. market to further engage with the club.

Volkswagen joins the MLS corporate family including: Official Sponsors — adidas, American Airlines, Aquafina, Budweiser, Chase, Diageo, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gatorade, The Home Depot, Makita USA, NAPA Auto Parts, Panasonic, Pepsi Co., U.S. Soccer Foundation, Visa, Xbox 360; Corporate Partners — Glidden, Red Bull.

Major League Soccer’s 14th season begins with “First Kick,” the weekend of March 19-22, 2009, when 14 teams kickoff the 2009 MLS regular season.

However, LA Galaxy star man and big MLS draw David Beckham won’t be participating. Beckham has opted to extend his loan stay with AC Milan in Italy.