FIFA announces new sponsorship deal, says more on the way

Sat Mar 19, 2016 12:03am EDT
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA president Gianni Infantino said a wind of change was blowing through soccer's scandal-plagued world governing body after announcing a sponsorship deal with China's Wanda Group on Friday.

FIFA has been battered by a series of scandals and the deal, which runs until 2030 and includes the next four World Cups, came one day after the Swiss-based federation announced a $122 million loss for 2015, its first deficit since 2002.

The deal could help Infantino, elected last month to replace the disgraced Sepp Blatter, fulfill ambitious promises of greater funding for FIFA's 209 member associations which he made during his campaign.

FIFA has been thrown into turmoil in the last year with criminal investigations underway into the sport in the United States, where several dozen former soccer officials have been indicted, and Switzerland.

Blatter has been banned by the federation's own ethics committee for six years after being engulfed by the scandal.

"I cannot change the past but I can influence the future and make sure we will face all the challenges," said Infantino after chairing his first executive committee meeting.

Wanda Group, China's largest commercial property company, last year bought a 20 percent stake in Spanish club Atletico Madrid and Blatter's nephew Philippe Blatter is chief executive of its subsidiary Wanda Sports Holding.

A source close to the deal said the sponsorship amount by Wanda will be "hundreds of millions of dollars".   Continued...

FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks to the media after the executive committee meeting at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich