Alibaba E-Auto signs 8-year deal with FIFA

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By QI­UQUAN­LIN in Guangzhou andMENGJING in Beijing

Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd, China’s e-commerce gi­ant, has signed an eightyear part­ner­ship agree­ment with FIFA, in which its In­ter­net car brand Alibaba E-Auto will be an of­fi­cial sup­porter of the FIFA Club­World 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 which­to­launchthe­up­com­ing 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 datadriven 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 in­toChina’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 Dou­blestrat­egy, 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.

JiangQian, 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.

Con­tact the writ­ers at qi­uquan­lin@chi­nadaily. and mengjing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Jack Ma, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd, takes snap­shots dur­ing a soc­cer tour­na­ment that Guangzhou Ever­grande took part in ear­lier this year.

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