(Yicai Global) June 7 -- All eyes now are on the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Football is one of the main discussion topics in almost every country. China is not represented in the finals as its national team lost at the qualification stage. But its businesses show a strong presence in the tournament. Here is how:
Some major Chinese firms signed sponsorship deals with the world's football governing body, FIFA. Electronics firm Hisense Co., smartphone maker Vivo Communication Technology Co., dairy producer China Mengniu Dairy Co., and property giant Wanda Group are important sponsors of one of the world's most exciting sports events.
Given that the previous two World Cup finals in 2010 and 2014 had only one Chinese sponsor, Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, the current heavy presence of Chinese firms in the 2018 World Cup in Russia is yet another indication of growing interest and investment in football in the world's second-largest economy.
Furthermore, Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. has already an eight-year Fifa Club World Cup sponsorship deal and many Chinese firms own popular football clubs in the competitive European leagues such as England's Premier League and Italy's Serie A. China's President Xi Jinping is also known to be an avid football fan and has initiated a major campaign to improve the football game in the country.
China now aims to reach the 2026 World Cup finals when FIFA increases the number of teams in the tournament to 48 from 32 or to host a World Cup to join it as the host country.