Fifa has brought on board its first World Cup regional sponsor after agreeing terms with Russia’s Alfa-Bank in a deal that continues the growing trend new sponsors coming from China and Russia.
Alfa-Bank has bought one of four European slots in the new 'Regional Supporter' category which offers four sponsorship packages for each of the five global regions: Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East and Africa as well as Asia.
Fifa introduced the new structure to replaces the national supporter category and open up more sponsorship opportunities by attracting brands who may not want to invest in global sponsorship but are looking for a significant regional presence around the world’s biggest sporting event.
Alfa-Bank, which has 745 offices and branches across Russia and Europe, will activate sponsorship initiatives around the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017. The Russian bank will also support Fifa on a number of ticketing-related projects with the aim of enhancing services to fans.
Announcing the sponsorship Fifa secretary general, Fatma Samoura, said: “The staging of the FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup requires many banking services, not just for the fans but also for the organisers. So it is very important for us to be able to count on the expertise and vast network of Alfa-Bank in Russia. We look forward to working with them in the delivery of these tournaments.”
Petr Aven, a member of Alfa-Bank’s board of directors, said the main focus of the partnership would be to “contribute to delivering a successful FIFA World Cup in Russia and providing the highest levels of banking services to football fans”.
He added: “Being a Regional Supporter offers Alfa-Bank the opportunity to acquire new customers via the extension of our current outstanding services to the many football fans attending the tournament.”
In March this year the Dalian Wanda Group, China's biggest commercial property developer and an active buyer of global entertainment and sports companies, became the first Chinese top level sponsor of Fifa.
When the deal was announced the company’s chairman, Wang Jianlin, admitted that the corruption scandal engulfing Fifa was an opportunity for major Chinese companies to further the country's footballing ambitions by undertaking sponsorship deals with the global governing body.
A number of major Fifa sponsors including Sony, Emirates, Castrol, Continental Tyres and Johnson & Johnson have cut ties with Fifa following the corruption scandals, leaving the door open for more Russian and Chinese companies to capatalise on the sponsorship opportunities.