More Chinese companies than ever signed up to sponsor the UEFA European Football Championships, becoming the largest source of sponsorship for the tournament, which kicked off Friday in Rome.
Four Chinese companies -- Hisense, Alipay, Vivo and TikTok -- are among the 12 sponsors of Euro 2020, the first top-notch sporting event launched since the pandemic, after a one-year delay. Other sponsors include American brands FedEx, Booking.com and Coca-Cola; Germany's Volkswagen; Russian energy giant Gazprom; the Netherlands' brewer Heineken and food delivery service Takeaway.com; and Qatar Airways.
Chinese companies are increasingly relying on high-visibility sporting events for global brand-building. In 2016, state-owned electronics maker Hisense became the first Chinese sponsor of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) soccer championship. Brand awareness of Hisense nearly doubled in Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain after Euro 2016, Hisense said, citing the market research firm Ipsos Group. Hisense was also a major sponsor of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Alibaba Group's payment unit, Alipay, reached an eight-year partnership deal with UEFA in November 2018, which includes Euro 2020 and 2024. The company is the Euro 2020 official global payment partner. The deal was reported to be worth 200 million euros ($230 million).
Euro 2020 is the first time for Chinese smartphone maker Vivo and ByteDance's short-video platform TikTok to sponsor the games as both companies look to expand their business presence on the continent.
Vivo agreed to a two-tournament deal including Euro 2024 and became the official smartphone provider for the games. In February, Vivo officially entered Romania and the Czech Republic as part of an ambitious plan launched in October 2020 to expand in Europe. Vivo said it plans to cover more than 12 markets in Europe by the end of the year.
ByteDance said in March that its video-sharing site TikTok had become the first digital entertainment platform to sponsor the European soccer tournament.
TikTok "is looking to cement its reputation as the home for football fans to share their passion for the game, as well as driving awareness with new audiences," according to a statement.
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