ZURICH/BEIJING: China’s national football team won’t be taking part in the FIFA World Cup in Russia next year, but that hasn’t deterred a series of leading Chinese brands from signing up as sponsors.

The latest is China Mengniu Dairy, the country’s second-biggest dairy company, which will become a second-tier sponsor and the official supplier of drinkable yoghurt and pre-packaged ice cream during the tournament.

FIFA and Mengniu announced the deal in a statement that confirmed the inner Mongolia-based firm’s branding will appear on all key promotional platforms.

Mengniu also will have the right to broadcast a seven-minute commercial during each of the 64 World Cup matches in 2018.

“Mengniu is one of the biggest dairy producers in the world and is a strong brand in the Chinese market. Growing the game worldwide is one of our key priorities, and we now have another strong Official Sponsor in such an important region,” said Philippe Le Floc’h, FIFA’s Chief Commercial Officer.

“Naturally, we will also benefit from the fact that Mengniu’s business appeals to children and youngsters, giving us the opportunity to engage with a new generation of football fans,” he added.

“Thanks to our sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup, we have an opportunity to reach an even bigger global market and, more importantly, to showcase the Chinese dairy industry to the whole world,” said Jeffrey Lu, CEO of Mengniu Group.

The agreement means that Mengniu becomes the fourth Chinese sponsor of next year’s World Cup, joining consumer electronics manufacturer Hisense Group and Vivo, the smartphone company, as fellow tier-two sponsors. Wanda Group, the Chinese conglomerate is also a sponsor, but at the tier-one level.

Securing Mengniu’s participation will come as a relief for FIFA, which has been trying to restore its reputation following a series of corruption allegations stretching back years.

As a result, several major Western brands decided not to renew their sponsorship deals with FIFA – at least at the second and third tiers – and, according to Reuters, around half of its 36 sponsorship slots are still to be filled six months before the tournament starts.

Sourced from FIFA, Reuters; additional content by WARC staff