Rafa Nadal No Longer A PokerStars AmbassadorOctober 13, 2015 11:56 am
After three-years as a PokerStars ambassador, tennis ace Rafael Nadal and the world’s biggest internet poker room have now parted ways. At the time of his signing in 2012, Nadal‘s association with PokerStars created a great deal of excitement, and he regularly appeared in PokerStars sponsored ads, or played online on the site. However, he was seen less often at live tournaments during his tenure, unless it was competing in special events against high-profile pros such as Vanessa Selbst or Daniel Negreanu.
One such tournament cash by Nadal was when he won a €100,000 EPT charity event in Prague for €50,000 against Daniel Negreanu, and a number of fellow sports stars including Ronaldo, Andriy Shevchenko, and Fatima Moreira de Melo. Outside of such special events, however, Rafa Nadal rarely made any references to PokerStars on his social media accounts, and largely flew under the poker media radar.
Nevertheless, Rafa Nadal sponsorship deal was apparently worth €12 million ($13.6m) for two years, according to an unconfirmed report by TennisWorldUSA.org. At such a high price tag, it’s understandable why PokerStars has decided not to renew Nadal’s contract, especially following the similarly expensive recent signings of two of soccer’s most recognizable stars, Neymar Jr and Cristiano Ronaldo. Commenting on Nadal’s departure from PokerStars, an official statement read:
“Rafa Nadal has played an important role for our brand and while his time as a member of Team PokerStars SportStars has concluded for now, we remain close to him and his team. Our strategy and work with Rafa has led our strategy to evolve, and consequently, our current focus in on working with Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr.”
In addition to two of the biggest stars in soccer, Team SportStars still boasts a number of other high-profile stars, including retired soccer legend Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, Dutch Hockey Olympic gold medalist Fatima Moreira de Melo, Sweden’s cross-country skiing Olympic gold medalist Marcus Hellner, and British champion snowboarder Zoe Gillings-Brier.