First Regional Sponsor for FIFA World Cup in Russia

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(WFI) FIFA has named Russia’s Alfa Bank as its first regional sponsor of the 2018 World Cup.

It’s the first major signing for the Russia tournament in the wake of a scandal-hit 18 months for FIFA.

Alfa-Bank will activate sponsorship initiatives around next year’s Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup across Russia and the European continent. It will also support FIFA on some ticketing-related projects with the aim of enhancing services to fans.

Commenting on the first sponsorship announcement since she joined FIFA in May, secretary general Fatma Samoura said: “The staging of the FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup requires many banking services, not just for the fans but also for the organisers.

“So it is very important for us to be able to count on the expertise and vast network of Alfa-Bank in Russia. We look forward to working with them in the delivery of these tournaments.”

FIFA’s new commercial strategy for the World Cup includes making four regional sponsor slots available in Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East and Africa, plus Asia.

FIFA said it had observed “a growing interest in this new regional sponsorship approach, which offers companies that do not necessarily want to enter into global sponsorship packages a chance to be part of the World Cup and benefit from a significant regional presence”.

The federation said the commercial plan ensured the World Cup had the potential to reach an even broader audience. All 2018 World Cup regional supporters receive the benefits afforded to all sponsors, including LED board exposure during events, and access to tickets and brand association rights for their respective region.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino prioritized ramping up sponsorship revenue when he was elected in February. Infantino spoke of the challenges of reviving FIFA’s flagging financial fortunes; the federation recorded a $122 million loss for 2015.

In March, Wanda Group became FIFA’s first Chinese top-tier sponsor, signing on through the 2030 World Cup.

FIFA faces a $500 million shortfall in sponsorship revenues for the current cycle. Projected revenues from the 2015-18 cycle are $5.65 billion.

Further sponsorship announcements are due in the coming months.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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