Business / Technology

Alibaba E-Auto signs 8-year deal with FIFA

By Qiu Quanlin and Meng Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-10 10:00

Alibaba E-Auto signs 8-year deal with FIFA

Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, takes snapshots during a soccer tournament that Guangzhou Evergrande took part in earlier this year. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, China's e-commerce giant, has signed an eight-year partnership agreement with FIFA, in which its Internet car brand Alibaba E-Auto will be an official supporter of the FIFA Club World Cup.

The announcement was made in Tokyo ahead of the start of this year's competition on Thursday, in which China's five-time champion Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao will play against other continental giants.

The partnership will run until 2022 and promote what is Alibaba's first car business, which is scheduled to be launched next year.

Beginning this year, Alibaba E-Auto will have strong brand presence in both stadiums and during TV coverage - a strong global platform on which to launch the upcoming automobile project, it said.

"Sports is at the intersection of Alibaba's strategic themes of health and happiness," said Zhang Yong, CEO of Alibaba.

"We are looking forward to adding new value for participants and consumers in the sports sector through data-driven Internet technology."

Industry analysts said that after becoming a partner for the event - an event first held in 1980, sponsored by Toyota Motor Corp, and which is considered the sport's most prestigious club tournament - Alibaba could now push ahead with more sports-related activities.

The company announced in September it was setting up a new operation to tap into China's multi-trillion-yuan sports market.

The newly founded company, Ali Sports, is expected to use digital technology to transform the entire industrial chain of China's traditional sports industry.

Officials said Alibaba is viewing it as a cornerstone to develop its so-called Double-H strategy, meaning health and happiness.

As a dominant player in China's online shopping industry, Alibaba had 367 million active users by the end of June, and thousands of sports brands have set up virtual stores on its online shopping platforms.

Jiang Qian, an analyst with Beijing-based Analysys International, said that apart from e-commerce, Alibaba's business ecosystem also has advantages in media, cloud computing and smart devices, which can be leveraged to gain an advantage in the broadcasting and distribution of sports programs.

"However, the group lacks content. That's why Alibaba has invested in building its own Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Football Club and becoming the partner of the FIFA Club World Cup. The more core assets it gains, the more it can monetize in different channels and different forms," she said.

Other industry insiders said the partnership represented China's great potential in boosting soccer and the wider sports industry.

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