BT Sport will show Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial match live on its new sports channels and the match can be watched online by millions of fans worldwide, following a groundbreaking agreement with the player and Streamworks International.
The showpiece game between Manchester United and Sevilla at Old Trafford on August 9 could be one of the most-watched testimonials ever, courtesy of Streamworks’ global streaming operation which will make the live action available at www.riotestimonial.com in as many as 170 countries.
And the sense of occasion will be heightened by special guest appearances by famous faces from the sporting and entertainment worlds.
The testimonial is scheduled just two days before the domestic season curtain raiser, as Premier League champions Manchester United take on FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic in the FA Community Shield.
The club granted their centre-half a testimonial as a tribute to his incredible 12 years with United. Rio has made 432 appearances for the club, scoring eight times, since joining from Leeds United.
And after signing a one-year extension, he is set to rack up more appearances in the 2013/14 season, as United look to defend their Barclays Premier League title in the face of challenges from neighbours Manchester City, under new coach Manuel Pellegrini, and Chelsea, with Jose Mourinho back at the helm.
In fact, all three leading title challengers will be fielding new managers, with David Moyes taking the reins at Old Trafford.
Rio will be looking to add to his medal haul of six Premier League titles, one UEFA Champions League, two League Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup.
And he has also signed a three-year deal with BT Sport to support the channels as an interviewer, programme-maker and football expert.
Rio, 34, has agreed to carry out various roles for BT Sport, including making football and lifestyle programmes and conducting his own big name interviews as he does for his #5 magazine. He will also be acting as a football expert.
He will also act as a BT Ambassador. Spurs star and PFA Player of the Year Gareth Bale and Arsenal and England winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are fellow ambassadors.
Rio is founder of the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, which offers education, training and employment support programmes in deprived communities. He is also Editor-in-Chief of his own digital magazine #5, which is a free lifestyle magazine. That position has allowed him the chance to conduct big name sporting interviews.
Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: “We are delighted to be associated with a huge star like Rio in all the different ways he is featuring on BT Sport and we are thrilled that his testimonial is going to be live on BT Sport.
“To mark this special occasion, we’ve put together a groundbreaking plan to help make this game available to millions of fans across the globe, and it is something of a technology first for a game to be streamed live on this scale.”
BT has agreed with Streamworks International that they will stream the action live across the globe. In the UK, the streaming will be free for all viewers.
Rio Ferdinand said: “Manchester United is a unique club with fans in every corner of the globe so I am delighted that my testimonial is going to be so widely available to all of the club’s supporters in so many countries. It is going to be a fantastic and fun evening and there will be famous sporting faces and celebrities popping up all over the place, so it should be an incredible night.”
BT Sport will show 38 exclusively live football matches from the Barclays Premier League, including 18 of the ‘top picks’ from August 2013 for three seasons. The channels will also show live FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and Scottish Premier League matches, as well as top tier live football from Germany, Italy, France, Brazil, Australia and the USA, plus action from the FA Women’s Super League and 30 live matches from the Football Conference.