Carlsen named "Global Ambassador" for Unibet

by Johannes Fischer
1/31/2020 – At a press conference in Stockholm, Magnus Carlsen announced his collaboration with Unibet, a provider of sports betting, online casinos, online bingo and poker. In 2020 and 2021, Carlsen will act as a "global ambassador" for the gaming provider, which will be Carlsen's main sponsor for the next two years. | Photo: Magnus Carlsen on YouTube

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.

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Tagline: 'Luck is no coincidence'

World Champion Magnus Carlsen's collaboration with Unibet, which has been cultivated for some time, is now official. Unibet is a subsidiary of the Kindred Group, the Malta-registered company which last year offered the Norwegian Chess Federation a sponsorship deal worth 5 million euros over five years. In return, the association was expected to campaign for the Norwegian market to be opened to international betting providers, and not just Norway's state-owned enterprises.

The betting firm found a kindred spirit in Carlsen, who lobbied for the chess federation accepts this offer and even founded his own chess club called Offerspill in a bid to influence the voting battle. But after heated debates, the Norwegian Chess Federation declined Kindred's offer, leading Carlsen to resign his membership from the chess federation (though he continues to represent Norway in international competition).

The Norwegian Chess Federation deal appears dead but, undeterred, Unibet supports Carlsen's Offerspill association, and now also Magnus himself as his primary sponsor. On Thursday they debuted a new television commercial in which Carlsen plays a starring role.


Unibet TV commercial

The commercial was shown in a livestream on Carlsen's YouTube channel


At the press conference, Carlsen said that he had been looking forward to working with Unibet for a long time, and he sees many similarities between himself and his new sponsor: "We share a lot of common values ​​and interests, such as an analytical approach to games."

The collaboration with Unibet is explicitly aimed at a global audience. And when asked, Carlsen said during the press conference that he would not campaign for Unibet in Norway, noting, "we adhere to Norwegian law".

In a tweet, Carlsen also reaffirmed his enthusiasm for this partnership and shared the commercial. The resulting twitter thread shows some of the criticism Carlsen is likely to face as a consequence of this deal. Many respondents raise concerns over the ethical implications of promoting sports betting, noting in particular that Unibet offers betting on chess itself.

Full press conference video

Carlsen enters the room at 5:15. After a Q&A session, Carlsen gives a brief lesson and plays a few moves with Rhodri Darch, Chief Commercial Officer at Kindred Group, beginning at 12:35.

Translation from German and additional reporting: Macauley Peterson

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Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".

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