FIFA signs sponsorship deal with China's Wanda Group

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 18, 2016 10:16 AM

By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Soccer's governing body FIFA has signed a sponsorship deal with China's Wanda Group which will last until 2030 and includes the next four World Cups, soccer's world governing body said in a statement on Friday.

FIFA has been battered by a series of scandals and the deal eased worries about its finances after the Swiss-based federation announced a $122 million loss for 2015 on Thursday, its first deficit since 2002.

"This grants them the highest level of sponsorship rights, which includes the next four FIFA World Cup editions," said FIFA, adding that Wanda was its first Chinese partner.

    FIFA said Wanda Group, China's largest commercial property company, would "engage in numerous initiatives, with a strong focus toward grassroots soccer development in China PR and the Asian region."

FIFA has struggled to find new sponsors since the current crisis erupted in May and has failed to replace top-tier partners Sony and Emirates after their deals expired at the end of 2014.

But FIFA president Gianni Infantino, elected last month to replace Sepp Blatter who has been banned for six years for ethics violations, said the situation was looking brighter.

"I have to say that the wind has changed now," he told a news conference. "The relationship with the partners is one of my key priorities.

"I will restore the trust in FIFA and this means we will attract new partners, new sponsors and there will be some more positive news to announce in the coming weeks in this respect," Infantino added.

"2015 is in the past, the figures for 2016 will look very different."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)