New Delhi, January 31 Coca-Cola, which has been formally supporting FIFA World Cup since 1978, has made a foray into international cricket by announcing a five-year partnership with the International Cricket Council. This deal will enable one of the world’s largest beverage companies to become exclusive non-alcoholic beverage partner of ICC events, including the Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019. The global strategic partnership between Coca-Cola and the ICC, the global governing body for cricket, was announced today at the Indian capital of New Delhi. This deal will be valid till 2023. The five-year agreement allows Coca-Cola to sponsor all ICC events around the world, including the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup which will be held this year in England and Wales, the ICC men’s and women’s T20 World Cups which will be held in 2020 in Australia, ICC Women’s World Cup scheduled to be held in New Zealand in 2021, and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup to be held in India in 2023. “We are delighted to partner with Coca-Cola, as cricket is one of the world’s biggest sports with more than one billion fans,” said ICC Chief Executive David Richardson. Coca-Cola is a global brand, which is consumed by people from Kathmandu to Kentucky and from New Delhi to Nairobi. But cricket is still considered Indian although fan-following in countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan is growing. “We believe this partnership will work very well for us because around 30 to 35 per cent of the population across the world is obsessed with the game and ICC is trying to expand the game’s footprint all over the world,” said T Krishnakumar, president of Coca-Cola India and South West Asia. “As a global company we like to take anything global and we have experience of doing that with our products.” Coca-Cola is also interested in supporting cricket in Nepal, where the game is increasingly becoming popular. “But there is no authorised body to look into cricket in Nepal,” said a Coca-Cola official on condition of anonymity. The governing body for cricket in Nepal was the Cricket Association of Nepal. But it was banned by the ICC in 2016 after the government started to unnecessarily interfere in the body’s works. Despite this, Nepali cricket has been making a leapfrog in the international arena, gaining the One Day International status last year and producing players like Sandeep Lamichhane, an internationally recognised leg spin bowler, and Rohit Kumar Paudel, who recently broke the record of the likes of Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar and Pakistani Shahid Afridi to become the world’s youngest player to score half century. “Considering the pace at which cricket is growing in Nepal, we really want to support the game in the country. This, however, should not mean we have not done nothing to promote cricket in Nepal, as we have entered into partnership with the organisers of the Everest Premier League, a Twenty20 cricket tournament. But to get a bigger support we want Nepal to have something like ANFA (All Nepal Football Association, the governing body for football) for cricket,” said the Coca-Cola official. Coca-Cola has been supporting high school-level football in Nepal for the last 10 years via ANFA. The beverage company has currently partnered with over 1,100 high schools across Nepal to promote the game.