QATAR Airways said last Sunday it signed a deal with the game’s world governing body FIFA to be one of the official sponsors and the official airline of the next two World Cups, in Russia and Qatar.
Qatar’s national carrier did not disclose the value of the deal, which it said would cover the 2017 Confederations Cup, 2018 World Cup in Russia, Club World Cup and Women’s World Cup in 2019 and 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The airline joins Coca-Cola, Gazprom, Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group, Adidas, Visa and Hyundai as FIFA’s official partners, the highest of its three tiers of sponsorship.
FIFA said the deal “represents one of the biggest sporting sponsorships in the world and the largest in Qatar Airways’ history”.
Qatar Airways is the shirt sponsor of top Spanish football team Barcelona. It also supports several international and local events.
Swiss-based FIFA still has a large number of vacant slots for its second-tier World Cup sponsors and third-tier regional supporters.
It needs sponsorship to help reach its target of a $100m surplus for the four-yearly cycle ending with the 2018 World Cup.
It is also under pressure to increase its revenue after President Gianni Infantino, elected last year, promised to increase payouts to its 211 member federations to develop the sport.
FIFA made a loss of $391m in 2016,