Sports\Team China

Chinese companies keen for piece of WC sponsorship pie

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-16 07:09

Seven months ahead of kickoff, the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is opening its doors to Chinese sponsors.

Next year's most anticipated global sporting event is providing four quotas in its third sponsoring tier for Asia, with China the primary target for companies looking to market their products and services within designated regions throughout the tournament.

Sports marketing firm Desports, the 2018 World Cup's exclusive sponsorship agency in Asia, unveiled the initiative at a workshop in Beijing on Tuesday. The event brought together FIFA executives, tournament organizers and business leaders to discuss marketing value and branding opportunities.

Next year's finals, running from June 14 to July 15, will see the first involvement of up to 20 "regional supporters" in the third tier of FIFA's new three-level commercial structure.

A regional-level quota costs less than the top two tiers and allows bidders limited sponsorship rights in their domestic market.

Jiang Lizhang, chairman of Desports, said enthusiasm from Chinese companies is high.

"I personally have to answer dozens of phone calls from potential Chinese bidders everyday," said Jiang, who purchased a five percent stake in the Minnesota Timberwolves last June to become the first Chinese minority owner of an NBA franchise.

"To connect Chinese brands with the world's highest profile sporting property appeals greatly to costumers here."

Li Hongliang, vice-president of Desports, said the company will leverage its sports brokerage and media resources to provide successful bidders opportunities in World Cup team endorsements, television exposure and promotional activities in China and Russia.

"The 2018 Russia World Cup is the closest one to China in terms of geography and time difference since the 2002 tournament (in Japan and South Korea) and will for sure trigger greater fan following and attention," he said.

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