BEIJING: Yingli Green Energy, the Chinese energy firm, has signed up as a worldwide sponsor of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, another sign of the growing global role of brands based in the country.

The renewable and solar power specialist currently operates two offices in the US – in New York and San Francisco – alongside five outposts in Europe, and its corporate headquarters in Hubei.

It said in a statement that one of the main aims of its sponsorship of the World Cup, which will begin in South Africa in June, was to "further its strategic marketing initiatives worldwide."

Under the terms of the deal, it will receive a variety of advertising and media rights, as well as "extensive on-site opportunities at FIFA World Cup stadiums for marketing and promotion purposes."

Another element of the tie-up will see Yingli fit solar panels to the 20 Centres for 2010, which have been built by FIFA across Africa, and are intended to provide a lasting heritage for the region.

Coca-Cola, Adidas and Emirates are among FIFA's long-term "partners", meaning they are permitted to use its emblem in their ad campaigns, and have access to a broad range of other benefits.

Hyundai/Kia, Sony and Visa also hold such a status, while a number of other brands have reached agreements specifically for this year's event.

Yingli will join Budweiser, Castrol, Continental, McDonald's, MTN and Satyam in this latter group, and is the first company from China to have become involved in the competition in such a way.

Liansheng Miao, its chairman/ceo, said "we are excited to be joining other world-class brands as an international sponsor of the FIFA World Cup."

"This sponsorship links Yingli Green Energy to the world's most popular and passionately followed sport."

FIFA generated $253 million (€181m; £159m) from its marketing-related activities in 2008, when it last published figures for this area of its operations.

Thierry Weil, the governing body's marketing director, said "China is a given, China is one of the powerhouses of the world."

"This is a massive sport, it is a sport liked in China ... FIFA cannot do without China and that is why we are extremely proud today to welcome the first Chinese company to be part of the World Cup."

Data sourced from Yingli/Reuters; additional content by Warc staff