Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba has today confirmed an eight-year sponsorship deal with football's world governing body, Fifa, as the group looks to promote its first internet car.
Dubbed a "presenting partnership", the sponsorship sees the online marketplace's Alibaba E-Auto brand back the FIFA Club World Cup from 2015 until 2022. This year's competition starts tomorrow, in Japan, and Alibaba E-Auto will have a strong brand presence at both stadiums as well as through the global TV coverage.
Alibaba Group, which is the world's largest online and mobile commerce company, plans to launch its first internet car in 2016 in association with Shanghai Automotive Industry Cooperation. The two companies announced a joint venture earlier this year, committing $160 million to the initiative and revealing plans to develop new technologies that can improve the driving experience for consumers.
The Fifa partnership, which will also see Alibaba E-Auto present the most valuable player award at each match during the tournament, is expected to provide a global platform for promoting the upcoming automobile project.
Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Group CEO, said: "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.
"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 globalisation strategy for connecting China to the world."
The Alibaba deal comes with Fifa engulfed by claims of widespread corruption. This summer saw the US Department of Justice indict several Fifa executives in a move that prompted the governing body's key sponsors such as Visa, Adidas and McDonald's to publically voice concerns over the way the organisation is run.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter denies any wrongdoing, but the FBI is currently conducting an investigation into his potential role in a bribes scandal.