Chinese firms sponsoring Euro 2024 expand outreach

By Fan Feifei | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-18 07:09
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Slovenia's Petar Stojanovic tries to control the ball during a Group C match between Slovenia and Denmark at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, on Sunday. Five Chinese companies, including new energy vehicle maker BYD and financial technology giant Ant Group, are among the official sponsors of the event. ANTONIO CALANNI/AP

Despite the struggling performance of the Chinese national soccer team on the international stage in the past decades, Chinese companies, as sponsors, have rarely missed the finals of major international sporting events in recent years.

At the ongoing UEFA European Championship, or Euro 2024, Chinese companies sponsoring the event account for more than one-third of the 13 top-tier sponsors, making China the single biggest source of sponsorship for the major soccer event.

Experts said this demonstrates the rising technological prowess and competitiveness of Chinese brands on the global stage.

Furthermore, the strong presence of Chinese companies as sponsors of top-notch global sporting events has grabbed the attention of spectators around the world, and will help the enterprises expand their presence in overseas markets and boost brand awareness and international influence, the experts said.

Five Chinese companies — financial technology company Ant Group, home appliance giant Hisense, cross-border e-commerce platform AliExpress, smartphone manufacturer Vivo and electric vehicle maker BYD — are among official sponsors for this year's soccer championship, which runs from Saturday to July 15 in Germany, according to UEFA's website.

As the official payment sponsor of Euro 2024, Alipay+, the cross-border mobile payment platform owned by Ant, has announced plans to expand cross-border digital payment acceptance and provide convenient payment service and special benefits for global soccer fans and travelers through its merchant network during the tournament.

The company is accelerating steps to expand its footprint in European countries, such as the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Germany. As of this month, over 400,000 merchants in Europe accept mobile payments through Alipay+ from 14 international e-wallets and banking apps.

It is the third consecutive UEFA European Championship for which Chinese home appliance manufacturer Hisense has been a sponsor. The company is also the official screen provider for the video assistant referees during this year's tournament.

"Continued investment in world-class sporting events represents Hisense's determination to become a global brand, and it helps us build stronger relationships with global consumers and accelerates the company's globalization process," said Jia Shaoqian, chairman of Hisense.

Hong Yong, an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation's e-commerce research institute, said, "Chinese companies sponsoring the Euro 2024 soccer tournament highlights these enterprises' determination in going global and leveraging the major sports event to showcase their latest products and achievements in innovation."

Emphasizing that sponsorship of iconic international sporting events is conducive to connecting with consumers across the globe, speeding up Chinese enterprises' globalization layout, and enhancing brand recognition and influence globally, Hong said sports marketing serves as an important method for Chinese brands to increase their global competitiveness.

BYD, which is an official partner for the first time for Euro 2024, is providing a diverse range of new energy vehicles during the tournament.

Ouyang Rihui, assistant dean of the Central University of Finance and Economics' China Center for Internet Economy Research, said, "An increasing number of Chinese enterprises, especially those gaining a competitive edge in frontier sectors including digital payment, cross-border e-commerce, smartphones and NEVs, are seeking development opportunities in overseas markets."

Sponsoring the event also indicates that Chinese enterprises hope to expand their sales channels and increase their voice in international cooperation, Ouyang said, adding that the move will help more overseas consumers learn about China's technological advantages.

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