Wanda Group strikes FIFA partnership

wang jianlin - infantino - fifa
Wang Jianlin and Gianni Infantino

The Wanda Group has become FIFA’s latest global partner, with the property-developer-conglomerate sponsoring competitions, including four world cups, through 2030. Wanda becomes the first Chinese company to join the top tier of FIFA sponsors, a small group consisting of companies Adidas, Coca-Cola, Gazprom, Hyundai/KIA and Visa. Previously, Chinese solar panel manufacturer Yingli Solar was a second-tier Fifa sponsor of the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

The Chinese partnership is the first major success for the world soccer governing body which is still recovering from last year’s corruption scandal in which current and former top level officials where named in indictments by the United States. The subsequent fallout eventually led to the unseating of long term FIFA President Sepp Blatter and the election of Gianni Infantino in an effort to steer the organization toward more transparent governance and stem the pressure on existing commercial partners. As the first top tier deal of Infantino’s administration the Wanda partnership suggests the change may have worked and stemmed the uproar over the 2015 scandal.

No financial terms of the deal were disclosed but estimates of partner level fees ranged between $24m and $44m in 2010. If the growth in soccer television rights in the past five years is instructive then it would be reasonable to expect those partner fees to have increased in the time since.

The Wanda Group likely sounds familiar because it’s part of the handful of Chinese companies that have become increasingly active in the soccer media space, with Wanda most recently purchasing a majority stake in sports rights leader Infront Sports & Media. This jump in private activity is no fluke as it is an open secret that the Chinese government sees progress in soccer as a national priority in terms of both international prestige and also commercial opportunity.

Wang Jianlin, Wanda’s Chairman had this to say at the partnership’s announcement:

“The Chinese Government is committed to this development and as a company we strongly support these efforts. In order to professionally grow the existing grassroots movement into a sustainable and well managed sport, we are delighted to tap into the vast experience of the most competent advisor – FIFA. We believe in football as one of the most attractive sports globally and have the highest trust in FIFA and its newly established organisational structure under the lead of President Gianni Infantino.”

Wanda Group strikes FIFA partnership

Blatter faces Swiss investigation

The storm around FIFA continues to grow as Sepp Blatter is reportedly under investigation by Swiss authorities for violating his fiduciary duties by redirecting funds for the personal benefit of other members. It is thought that a 2005 sale of TV rights to a company affiliated with Jack Warner and a 2011 payment to Michel Platini are at the heart of the investigation.

The BBC has an excellent article covering the report, I suggest you take a read over there. Full article>>

Blatter faces Swiss investigation

Sorrell, Payne Discuss Outlook for Soccer Governance (video)

Interesting interview by Bloomberg with Martin Sorrell and Michael Payne on the FIFA allegations and the future of the organization:

WPP Plc Chief Executive Officer Martin Sorrell and Michael Payne, a former executive of the International Olympic Committee, discuss the outlook for world soccer governance. They speak with Mark Barton on Bloomberg Television’s “Countdown” in an interview from Zurich.

See more @ Bloomberg >> Video Interview (10:13)

Video

Liberia FA head Bility announces run for FIFA presidency

 

The 48-year-old is the second person to declare his candidacy after former Brazil international Zico.

“Africa is the largest voting bloc in Fifa and we must take the lead to bring football together,” said Bility.

“We all agree that football is facing a difficult moment and it is in difficult moments that great leaders emerge.”

Bility, who has led the Liberian FA since 2010, becomes only the second African to make a bid to become Fifa president.

Full article @ BBC >> Musa Bility: Liberia FA boss to stand for Fifa presidency

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