Fifa scandal opens the door to Chinese sponsors, says Dalian Wanda boss
Fifa’s corruption scandal could play directly into the hands of Chinese companies looking to capitalise on the sport’s growing popularity in Asia, says the football governing body’s new sponsor.
Wang Jianlin, chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, said he expected other companies to follow suit in joining forces with football’s governing organisation as China accelerates its ambition to become a global footballing superpower.
"Two or three years ago, Chinese and Asian companies probably wouldn't even have had a chance to sponsor Fifa even if we wanted to. But because some western companies dropped out, we got the opportunity," said Jianlin at a news conference in Beijing.
Dalian Wanda Group became the first Chinese top level sponsor of Fifa last week in a deal which gives the commercial property developer the highest level of sponsorship rights for the next four World Cup tournaments.
Jianlin hinted that more Chinese companies are readying sponsorship deals with Fifa when he said: "To my knowledge, another Chinese company will become a Fifa top sponsor soon. If there are no surprises, there will be three Chinese top-level sponsors by the end of the year.”
He added: "If more Chinese brother companies become Fifa sponsors like Wanda, we will join forces to advance the interests of China soccer."
Fifa has struggled to find new sponsors since the current corruption scandal erupted and has failed to replace top-tier partners in Sony and Emirates after their deals expired so the door is open for more Chinese companies to strike up deals.