BEIJING/ZURICH: FIFA has added another sponsor to its troubled World Cup portfolio after signing an agreement with Chinese smartphone company Vivo for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Vivo thus become the third Chinese to hurry on board in the past year and ease concerns that president Gianni Infantino might find himself financially unable to fulfil all the promises of extra development handouts to the world football federation’s 211 members.

The deal is believed to be worth around $450m. Already on board are Wanda and Hisense.

The formal announcement was undertaken in Beijing at the Imperial Ancestral Temple by Vivo executive vice-president Ni Xudong and FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura.

Vivo’s sponsorship kicks in immediately, starting with the imminent Confederations Cup which opens in St Petersburg, Russia, on June 17.

A FIFA statement said: “The global reach of this six-year partnership is set to take Vivo to new heights. The Vivo logo will appear during every match on pitch advertising boards, match tickets, media releases and other key promotional platforms.

“The agreement includes special marketing activations such as the right to select guests to be a Vivo phone photographer during pre-match player warm-ups. Vivo will also gradually introduce a customised FIFA World Cup™ phone that will offer a unique experience for football fans around the world.”

Ni Xudong said that Vivo “hopes to strongly associate itself with the football spirit” with more than one eye, probably, on the possibility of China bidding to host the centenary World Cup in 2030.

Vivo’s previous involvement in sport includes the title sponsorship of the Indian Premier League cricket competition and a deal as China’s official mobile handset sponsor of the American National Basketball Association.