MOSCOW, April 14 (R-Sport) – Russian energy giant Gazprom is to become the title sponsor of a multi-nation league known as the South East Handball Association, the Russian Handball Union reported Sunday.
The four-year agreement foresees the league, founded in 2011, bearing the name of Gazprom’s South Stream pipeline that will connect Russia with Central and South European countries from 2015.
“According to the agreement, the sponsor undertakes all transport and accommodation expenses of the teams and officials,” a statement on the union’s website said.
By the end of May, the league’s organizers will announce the entry list for next season, which is expected to include at least 12 teams from Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovakia and Serbia, with each country entitled to a maximum of two spots.
Three Hungarian teams and Russian champion Chekhovskie Medvedi have also applied for inclusion.
Gazprom is to provide the €80,000 prize fund for this year’s SEHA Final Four.
The energy giant has been heavily involved in the international sport over the last few years, becoming an official partner of football’s Champions League last July.
One of the largest world companies, Gazprom owns Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg and sponsors several sides including Chelsea, Schalke 04 and Red Star Belgrade, Russian cycling Katusha team and Russian volleyball champion Zenit Kazan.