Alibaba E-Auto, an “Internet car” brand owned by Alibaba Group, has struck a deal to be the exclusive presenting partner for F√©d√©ration Internationale de Football Association’s Club World Cup for eight years.
The finalists are the most recent champions from the six soccer confederations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North America and South America, as well as the tournament’s host country. This year’s championship, hosted by Japan, starts Thursday and runs through Dec. 20.
Under the agreement, the tournament will be called the “FIFA Club World Cup Presented by Alibaba E-Auto” starting this year through 2022, and Alibaba E-Auto will enjoy a strong brand presence at stadiums and during global television coverage of the events. Also, a representative from Alibaba Group will present a Most Valuable Player award at each game, including the tournament MVP after the championship game. The partnership will allow Alibaba E-Auto to reach a global audience given the prominence of the tournament, the company said.
Alibaba Sports Group played a key role in securing the deal between Alibaba E-Auto and FIFA. Alibaba Sports was launched in September together with Sina Corp., owner of China’s popular microblogging site Sina Weibo, and Yunfeng Capital, a private equity company founded by Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma. The company’s mission is to leverage Alibaba Group’s Internet properties to transform China’s sports industry and bring better products and services, such as events, tickets and media, to consumers.
“Sports is at the intersection of Alibaba Group’s strategic themes of health and happiness, and we look forward to adding new value for participants and consumers in the sports sector through data-driven Internet technology,” Alibaba Group CEO and Alibaba Sports Chairman Daniel Zhang said in a statement. “Partnering with a major sporting event with a global audience such as FIFA Club World Cup is also an important part of Alibaba Group’s globalization strategy for connecting China to the world.”
FIFA Marketing Director Thierry Weil said soccer’s governing body hoped to benefit from Alibaba E-Auto’s “innovation, and [we] are looking forward to seeing what they can bring to the FIFA Club World Cup over the next eight years.” Alibaba E-Auto is a joint venture between Alibaba Group and state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industry Cooperation to develop an Internet-enabled car, which is expected next year.
In this year’s tournament, Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao is scheduled to play Club Am√©rica, a storied Mexican club with six North American championship titles under its belt, in the first round on Dec. 13 in Osaka.