Martini and Rosso’s sponsorship of the Women’s World Cups in 1970 and 1971 Celebrating 50 years since an innovative sports partnership began
Most people think that sponsorship of sport, particularly women’s sport is a new thing. But far from it. In the nineteenth century newspapers used journalists like Nellie Bly, a pseudonym for Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman (1864-1922), who worked for Joseph Pulitzer at the New York World, reporting, amongst other things, on prize-fights. On 14 November 1889 Nellie Bly left New York by ship in an attempt to beat the feat made famous by French author Jules Verne (1828-1905) by circling the globe in less than 80 days. The New York World, sponsored and facilitated her trip. On 25 January 1890 Bly succeeded having taken 72 days, six hours and eleven minutes to travel just under 25,000 miles for a reported cost of $1,500. Both Nellie Bly and Pulitzer understood that women pioneers could make the news as well as report on it.
Women’s football had started in 1881 as a professional entertainment and, by 1921 had become so popular that the FA, the ruling body in England, saw fit to prevent women from playing on grounds of clubs affiliated to it, and to say that they considered the game ‘unsuitable’ for women. So women’s football became an unregulated activity, played mainly to raise money for charity. It was only in 1969 that FIFA, the world governing body, thought that they should now being to consider women’s football as part of their remit. But businessmen were ahead of them, and saw the potential of the activity. Amongst them Martini and Rosso.
Martini and Rosso History and Sport Sponsorship
In 1863 Alessandro Martini and Luigi Rossi took over the National Wine & Spirits Distillery in a small village near Turin. In the twentieth century, the four Rossi di Montelera cousins (owners of the Martini & Rossi company) were all keen sportsmen. This family passion became a company policy, to use sport, be it professional or amateur, a base on which to build the company image. Theo was a real sportsman: he had been world speedboat champion and taken part in Olympic bob; while Metello founded the Martini International Club in London in 1958, established to support “all areas of culture, science, art and sport”; however, the club was particularly “involved in car and motorbike racing, all winter sports, nautical sports, horse riding, golf, tennis and fencing”.
Martini & Rossi understood the communicative force of this cycling and motor sport and decided to sponsor leading events from 1914 onwards. The First World War soon interrupted but, in 1925 in Turin the Gran Coppa Martini & Rossi cycling race was launched. This sponsorship reached its peak with the Tours of Italy in 1934 and 1936. In the first race, the company sponsored the cup awarded to the rider who was considered Gran Premi della Montagna or King of the Mountains, and had two bespoke advertising cars designed specially for Elixir China and Martini Vermouth to follow the race. In 1936 it had a luxury 8-cyclinder Isotta Fraschini with an enormous cardboard bottle of Elixir China mounted on the bonnet. Some sight for dry throated and thirsty cyclists on the dusty roads of the peninsula!
Martini & Rossi entered the world of car racing after World War II. The name appeared on bridges over racing tracks or along guardrails. Martini Racing would soon after appear and the distinctive livery, especially at events like Le Mans 24 Hours, a feature for over 30 years. The legendary Martini Racing Team was founded in December 1970 as an offshoot of the Martini International Club. Martini moved increasingly into sponsoring women’s sport, including the Martini Fencing Trophy, sponsorship of the first women's football World Cup, supporting the Women's Himalayan Expedition and the women's golf Open.
The 1970 Women’s World Cup
In 1970, the FIEFF (International Federation of European Women's Football), based in Torino, organized the first women's football World Cup in Italy. The Championship took place between July 7th and 15th, at the end of the men's football World Cup in Mexico.
Eight of the most representative teams in the world were invited: Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Mexico, Switzerland, (West) Germany. The matches took place in the stadiums of Bari, Bologna, Genova, Napoli, Milano, Salerno and Torino. The World Cup had a considerable public success, so much so that the final at the City Stadium was followed by as many as 50,000 spectators.
The Martini International Club often sponsored amateur sports, where the economic gain did not represent the most important goal for the athletes, and became the sponsor of the 1970 competition.
Conclusion Trofeo Martini & Rossi
In addition to an economic support to the event, Martini & Rossi decided to award, on the model of the Jules Rimet Cup, a special trophy called Trofeo Martini & Rossi. The golden cup was inspired by the famous sculpture Nike of Samothrace, or Winged Victory, displayed in the Louvre Museum. The players of the tournament team would be given a copy of the trophy while the original was kept by FIEFF.
The 1970 Women’s World Cup is today considered as "unofficial" since, starting from 1991, a world championship of women's football was organized by FIFA. The competition organized by FIEFF took place again, in 1971, in Mexico, once again with the support of the Martini International Club. We can also see a range of memorabilia, such as these sports bags that were given to competitors. A pioneering milestone in sponsoring and staging women’s football.
Posts written by Jean or Joanna.