DETROIT -- General Motors is targeting soccer fans in China and around the world with a five-year sponsorship of England's Manchester United soccer club.
GM's global marketing chief, Joel Ewanick, called the investment in the sponsorship "significant" but wouldn't disclose financial terms.
Manchester United, the 19-time English league champion soccer team, has a worldwide reach that fits with the automaker's desire to make Chevrolet a global icon.
"As Chevrolet continues to grow as a global brand, this is the right time to make a commitment and establish a presence in international football," Ewanick said.
He said the sponsorship offers an exposure opportunity unmatched by any U.S. sports franchise. He said there are an estimated 3.5 billion soccer fans worldwide -- half of the world's population -- vs. about 400 million people who follow the National Football League. Manchester United sells more team jerseys than all 32 NFL teams combined, Ewanick said.
He said he expects the sponsorship to have the biggest impact in China, where Manchester United has more fans than in Europe.
Under the deal, Chevrolet logos will appear on the team's bench and players' sideline chairs. The deal includes in-stadium advertising and player-endorsement opportunities, a GM spokesman said.
The Chevrolet logo won't appear on Manchester United's jerseys, though. That space is reserved for the team's main sponsor, insurance company Aon Corp.
Ewanick said U.S. and overseas Chevrolet dealers will be able to use the Manchester United logo with GM's permission.
Manchester United games are broadcast in 1.15 billion homes, 80 percent of the world's households with TVs, according to GM. In August, shipper DHL Worldwide Express paid Manchester United, also known as Man U, £40 million, or about $61.9 million, for the right to put its logo on the team's training apparel for four years.
Mike Colias, Bloomberg and Automotive News Europe contributed to this report