HONG KONG, June 11 (Reuters) - Asian football’s governing body announced on Monday it will sign an eight-year commercial rights deal with DDMC Sports International and Fortis AG as the Chinese company extends its influence into the regional sports marketing arena.
The announcement comes after the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) executive committee met in Moscow to consider bids for commercial and broadcast rights from 2021 to 2028, concluding a tender process that opened in November.
“The new rights agreement will now secure the financial future of our member associations as well as help the AFC further enhance our competitions and development programmes,” said AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa in a statement.
“The successful conclusion to a process, which has lasted for more than 15 months, will mean that the AFC and the Asian football family can now contemplate a bright and prosperous future.
“But at the same time, we must be aware of the need to continue to evolve and develop both on and off the field to make sure that we use the new financial power wisely and effectively.”
The deal covers the broadcast and commercial rights for all of the AFC’s competitions, including the Asian Champions League and the quadrennial Asian Cup as well as Asia’s final round of qualifying for the World Cup.
The decision means the AFC will end its relationship with existing partner Lagardere Sports and Entertainment at the start of 2021, concluding an association that began in 1993.
DDMC have partnered with Swiss company Fortis AG for the AFC tender and have been assertive in the domestic market in China.
Earlier this year, DDMC bought the domestic broadcast rights for Spanish football from the start of the 2017 season until 2022 while they also paid $500 million to purchase Super Sports Media, who hold the Chinese rights for the English Premier League.
DDMC subsidiary Desports is the parent company of Spanish football club Granada and Italy’s Parma, as well as Chinese Super League side Chongqing Lifan.
They are the latest Chinese company to make waves internationally after the Wanda Group bought a controlling stake in Switzerland-based Infront in 2015. (Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Christian Radnedge)