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Sports

A Bit of Sunny Cyprus in Cologne

Cologne has made the jump back to the top division and has taken on a unique sponsor. By promoting Cyprus, the team is one of a few using their shirts to showcase countries.

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Lukas Podolski and his teammates will have a newer, warmer sponsor

FC Cologne's promotion back to the Bundesliga has revitalized its image. During long, cold and dreary winter months the supporters of the Rhineland club need only look at the new sponsors on the team's jersey to be reminded that there are warmer climes elsewhere.

The Mediterranean island Cyprus is the club's new sponsor, or better said, an investor group that promotes tourism for the island. The current sponsor, the potato chip brand Funny-Frisch will have to find another team's uniform to decorate.

The announcement comes just a few weeks after storied Spanish side FC Barcelona announced it was close to inking a deal promoting China on its shirts. Specifically, Barcelona promote the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Now, Cologne follows with a deal that includes a Cyprus tourism office in the stadium.

"We're proud that we are taking a leading role with this concept," said Cologne president Wolfgang Overath.

The club stressed that the contract, worth a reported 4.3 million euros ($5.5 million) was not with any political entity on the island, but rather with the Satena Holding company which is based in Nicosia.

In addition to the travel agency in the RheinEnergie stadium, tourism agency secured a guarantee that Cologne will train on the temperate island during the winter break. No jersey has yet been proposed, but Cologne's managing director Claus Horstmann said that tourism promotion for the island would be in the concept.

The fans may appreciate the close proximity of the travel agency if the season should turn sour. Cologne have played four of its last seven seasons in the second league. Before 1997, it had never been relegated.

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