May 18, 2016
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Alibaba discussing FIFA sponsorship

May 18, 2016

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is in discussions to become a top sponsor of FIFA, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

A sponsorship deal has not been finalised and further details are not known, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

FIFA, which has been battered by a series of corruption scandals, announced a 15-year sponsorship deal with China's largest commercial property company, Dalian Wanda Group Co, in March.

"We never comment on speculation concerning current or reported contractual negotiations as matter of principle," FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer told Reuters on Wednesday.

Alibaba declined to comment on the report. The company's unit, Alibaba E-Auto, already has an eight-year sponsorship with FIFA for the FIFA Club World Cup.

The global football governing body has struggled to find new sponsors since the current crisis erupted and has failed to replace top-tier partners Sony Corp and Emirates Airline after their deals expired at the end of 2014.

Wang Jianlin, China's richest man and chairman of Dalian Wanda, said in March that FIFA's corruption scandal was an opportunity for big Chinese companies to further the country's lofty footballing ambitions by undertaking sponsorship deals with FIFA.

Led by China's President Xi Jinping, an avid football fan, China has embraced the goal of shedding decades of corruption and underperformance to become a major power in the game, aiming first to host the World Cup and then ultimately win it.


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