FIFA signs Vivo as another Chinese sponsor for World Cup

GENEVA (AP) FIFA signed another Chinese sponsor for the World Cup on Wednesday, agreeing to a deal with smartphone and software maker Vivo.

The announcement further links FIFA with China, which is likely to mount a bid for the 2030 World Cup despite current rules effectively blocking another Asian bid before the 2034 edition.

The six-year Vivo contract for a second-tier sponsorship runs through the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, FIFA said. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Vivo becomes the third World Cup sponsor signed from China since FIFA President Gianni Infantino took office 15 months ago.

Wanda, a property and cinema conglomerate, signed as a top-tier sponsor through 2030. Consumer electronics firm Hisense committed only through the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

When signing with FIFA last year, Wanda said it would be ''better placed to play a role in the bidding process.''

For now, China is helping fund FIFA while traditionally strong markets in North America and Western Europe have steered away from the scandal-hit soccer body.

Only sponsors from China plus host nations Russia and Qatar have signed up for the World Cup since the 2014 tournament and confirmation one year later of American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption linked to FIFA.

FIFA still has 22 vacant slots in a 34-sponsor program for the 2018 tournament, which kicks off in Russia next year.

A revamped third tier of regional sponsorships - designed to lure commercial partners globally instead of just in the host nation - has so far attracted only a single Russian bank.

Still, FIFA has said it will reach its revenue target of $5.56 billion - mostly from TV and sponsorship deals - for the four-year financial cycle tied to the Russian tournament.

Vivo's previous main international sports deal was the title sponsorship of cricket's Indian Premier League.

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