The world’s largest online commerce company, Alibaba, has signed an eight-year Presenting Partnership with FIFA for the FIFA Club World Cup. The announcement could prove to be significant on a couple of fronts.
First, Alibaba is a massive global company; becoming the biggest U.S. IPO in history in September 2014. Partnering with the world’s biggest sport through FIFA is a logical approach to help grow global awareness and acceptance. How Alibaba chooses to leverage this association and potentially expand its’ association with soccer is something many people within the sports industry will be keenly watching in the coming months.
Second, this is the only new sponsorship agreement FIFA has signed since the scandal broke. At the same time, many industry observers have picked up on the fact that under FIFA’s new sponsorship model there are slots for 34 corporate partners – 27 of which are currently vacant. I think it’s fair to say that FIFA’s new business activity is largely on hold until the election in February, but the Alibaba announcement serves as a reminder that global soccer via FIFA still has a unique value proposition for the right brand.