×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

China’s Wanda Strikes Strategic Partnership with Soccer’s FIFA

China’s Wanda has struck a strategic alliance with FIFA, the governing body of world soccer and organizer of the once every four years soccer World Cup.

Last week in Zurich, Wanda agreed to be a partner of FIFA, a deal which gives it the highest level of sponsorship, and marketing rights to all FIFA competitions including the next four World Cup tournaments.

Wanda detailed the strategic partnership at an event headed by group chairman Wang Jianlin, in Beijing on Monday. FIFA president Gianni Infantino sent a video message.

The strategic deal sets Wanda on course to be a major developer of ‘the beautiful game’ in China. Soccer is hugely popular in China, but its national team struggles in international competitions and its club game has been wracked by scandals.

Wang did not shy away from discussion of FIFA’s own scandals, but said instead: “We continue to believe in the development of football. It is Spring-time for  football in Asia.”

FIFA’s problems may actually have opened the door to Wanda. “After FIFA’s own anti-corruption investigations and the banning of some FIFA officials from the game, a number of sponsors dropped out. There can only be eight top level sponsors, so that created an opportunity for us,” said Wang. “Indeed within the next year there may be one or two other Chinese companies that become FIFA partners.”

Sports development has been set as a national priority by the highest levels of the Chinese regime. That enables Wanda to claim that it is doing government bidding in supporting grass roots development of the game in China, while also developing football as a business.

Wanda last February acquired the Infront sports marketing company, that has previously represented broadcast rights to many of the world’s biggest sports events. Infront is headed by Philippe Blatter, nephew of disgraced FIFA former president Sepp Blatter. Philippe Blatter, a former consultant with McKinsey, was last year made head of Wanda’s fast-growing sports unit, which now also includes the World Ironman group.

In January last year Wanda paid close to $50 million (Euros45 million) for a 20% stake in Atletico Madrid, the club champions of Spanish soccer.

Wanda’s sponsorship deal was announced only days after FIFA announced a loss of $122 million, its first deficit since 2002.

Wanda has been hugely busy this year in mergers and acquisitions connected to the wider entertainment business. At the time of the $3.5 billion purchase of “The Dark Knight” producer Legendary Entertainment, Wanda chairman and founder Wang Jianlin said the group was preparing five major deals in 2016.

The company’s name has inevitably been linked to ongoing corporate activity in the global film and entertainment industry. These have included speculation that Wanda may be a bidder for the piece of Paramount Pictures that Viacom has said it is looking to sell. Wanda’s name was also linked to the sale of Mars Entertainment, the largest chain of cinemas in Turkey.

So far this year Wanda has been involved in:

January – announced acquisition of Legendary.

February — unveiled the joint venture development of EuropaCity, a retail and entertainment complex near Paris, France.

Earlier in March — agreed to pay $1.1 billion for North American cinema chain Carmike through its U.S. listed AMC cinema chain.

 

More Biz

  • Kevin Tsujihara

    Kevin Tsujihara's Ouster Kicks Off a Week of Major Disruption in the Media Business

    The sudden ouster of Warner Bros. Entertainment chief Kevin Tsujihara kicked off what is likely to go down as one of the most extraordinary weeks in Hollywood history, spelling enormous turmoil and transition across the media landscape. In addition to the news about Tsujihara, which comes amid a wider shake-up of leadership at AT&T’s WarnerMedia, [...]

  • Disney Fox mega deal acquisition Illustration

    Disney Completes 21st Century Fox Acquisition

    Before the East Coast airing of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” ends tonight, Disney will formally seal the deal on its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox. “This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us — one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger said in [...]

  • Chinese Tech Firm Huawei Seeks Content

    Beleaguered Chinese Tech Firm Huawei Seeks Content for Expansion Into Southeast Asia

    One of the most surprising first-time attendees at FilMart is Chinese tech giant Huawei, which has come to Hong Kong to acquire the video content it needs to support its strategy of expansion into Southeast Asia. The company is currently embroiled in a PR nightmare as it defends itself against accusations that its equipment could [...]

  • Viacom HQ LA

    Viacom Goes to War With AT&T Over DirecTV Carriage Deal

    Viacom has declared war against AT&T, blasting the telco giant on several fronts as the companies wrestle over a carriage renewal deal that is vital to Viacom’s long-term financial health. As of today, Viacom has begun running crawls and promo spots on its channels warning viewers that Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, MTV and other channels [...]

  • Peloton Sued for $150 Million for

    Peloton Sued for $150 Million for Using Drake, Lady Gaga Music Without License

    A group of publishers including Downtown Music Publishing, Pulse Music Publishing, ole, peermusic, Ultra Music, Big Deal Music, Reservoir, Round Hill, TRO Essex Music Group and The Royalty Network filed a lawsuit against Peloton for infringement of more than a thousand musical works, according to a statement from the National Music Publishers Association. The plaintiffs are [...]

  • Bruce Ramer Re-Appointed to Corporation for

    Bruce Ramer Re-Appointed to Corporation for Public Broadcasting Board

    Top showbiz attorney Bruce Ramer has been reappointed to the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the nonprofit org that administers federal funding for public broadcasting. Ramer, a partner at Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman, was elected chair of the CPB board in October. He previously served as board chair from 2010-2012. His [...]

  • Gary Knell

    Listen: National Geographic Chief Gary Knell on Disney Future, Fox's Legacy

    The marriage of National Geographic Partners and Disney, which becomes official today, is the proverbial brand match made in heaven. Disney is taking over the stewardship of Nat Geo Partners — a joint venture with the National Geographic Society — as part of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. The transition comes at a time [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content