The world governing body for football Fifa announced on Wednesday that they have signed an eight-year partnership deal with Alibaba E-Auto for the Club World Cup, reflecting China’s vast marketing potential.
FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil informed the media about the deal with the car manufacturing brand of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group, who are also the world’s largest online and mobile commerce company.
“China is not a market which FIFA is strong in yet to be honest,” Weil said. “FIFA is especially looking into the market to help develop football in the market… China cannot be neglected because it’s a huge market.”
Alibaba E-Auto branding will have a strong presence at both stadiums for this year’s tournament which is being held in Japan from Dec. 10-20.
The Club World Cup features the top clubs from FIFA’s six continental confederations. European champion Barcelona and Copa Libertadores winner River Plate are the favorites to reach the final on Dec. 20.
The announcement of the deal comes at a time when FIFA was concerned about its capacity to keep and attract sponsors following a wide-ranging bribery scandal.
“It would be wrong for me to say yes, we have not faced difficulties,” Weil said. “You can imagine in the given period and given circumstance with what’s going on at FIFA.
“It is not easy to sell. We are in discussions with different companies but we are also realistic to say this will not change before the reforms will be approved from the Congress and before a new president is elected on the 26th of February.”