One of China’s biggest dairy companies is now the sponsor for the 2018 World Cup. The Chinese company is the fourth from the country to join the lineup. The sponsorship was announced by FIFA on Wednesday, making the company the official supplier of dairy products for the tournament. Mengniu Dairy sells products such as ice cream and yogurts.
With the deal, the company is also allowed to broadcast commercials for each of the matches that will take place at the tournament, which will begin on June 2018. There have been just a few sponsorship deals with Chinese companies in previous editions of the tournament but they will have a bigger presence in at least three of the next World Cups.
Mengniu joins Vivo, Hisense and Wanda Group as the sponsors for the 2018 World Cup. Wanda Group has a deal that will keep it as a sponsor until the 2030 World Cup. Vivo has a deal that lasts until the 2022 World Cup. The smartphone maker recently released a limited edition smartphone that has the Russia World Cup logo on the back. The company plans to do the same for the 2022 World Cup, which will be hosted by Qatar.
FIFA has a three-tier sponsorship system but some of the slots remain open as many companies have decided to stay away since the bribery scandal. In 2015, three companies decided not to renew their deals over the allegations of corruption. The scandal led to the arrests of some officials and Sepp Blatter later resigned as FIFA President. Blatter had been the president of FIFA for 17 years and was re-elected for a fifth term just weeks before he resigned.
Mengniu, Vivo and Hisense are second-tier sponsors for the event while Wanda Group is a top sponsor. The recent scandal doesn’t seem to be a problem for Chinese companies as they have also agreed to sponsorship deals for other tournaments.
China’s main goal now is to qualify for a World Cup, something they haven’t done since 2002. In recent years, the country has brought big names from other leagues to increase the popularity of the sport there and continue getting better. China’s 2018 World Cup hopes ended back in September, when they won 2 – 1 against Qatar but saw other results eliminate them. The 2022 qualifiers will begin in just a few years but teams who also fail to qualify for that tournament will have an even better chance of making it in 2026, when the expansion from 32 to 48 teams, approved back in January, begins.