FIFA, global soccer’s governing body, has today announced a major global partnership with Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco.

Under a four-year agreement, the company becomes FIFA’s major worldwide partner exclusive in the energy category, with sponsorship rights for multiple events including the 2026 men’s World Cup and 2027 Women’s World Cup.

Initial reports of the deal last year claimed it would run until the 2034 World Cup (on the basis that Saudi Arabia is set to host that edition) and be worth $100 million annually, becoming FIFA’s most lucrative commercial partnership.

However, the unveiled tie-up is instead only until the end of 2027.

Aramco has claimed it intends to work with FIFA to “drive innovation, identifying opportunities to deploy the company’s expertise and technologies in the delivery of football events globally.”

This includes initiatives that aim to provide “new and innovative ways” for fans to engage with FIFA’s events.

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The two parties will also collaborate on social initiatives.

Aramco becomes FIFA’s sixth global partner – joining adidas, Coca-Cola, Qatar Airways (renewed last November), Hyundai, and Visa.

Gianni Infantino, FIFA president, said: “This partnership will assist FIFA to successfully deliver its flagship tournaments over the next four years and, as is the case with all our commercial agreements, enable us to provide enhanced support to our 211 FIFA member associations across the globe.

“Aramco has a strong track record of supporting world-class events, but also a focus on developing grassroots sport initiatives. We look forward to collaborating with them on a variety of initiatives over the coming years.”

Aramco has been moving further into the world of sports sponsorships in recent years – particularly in cricket – but this represents its first major deal in soccer.

FIFA will now no doubt be looking for other major Saudi firms to come on board as partners for a Saudi World Cup in 2034.

So far, Aramco has deals in place with motor racing’s iconic Formula 1, as well as with the International Cricket Council and the Indian Premier League domestic cricket competition.

FIFA brought on Gazprom, the state-owned Russian energy giant, as a sponsor for the Russia 2018 edition of the World Cup, while Qatar Airways was a commercial partner last year when Qatar hosted the first-ever World Cup to take place in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia became the sole bidder for the 2034 World Cup in late October when Australia withdrew from the bidding process just before a FIFA deadline (only submissions from Asian and Oceanic countries were eligible because of FIFA’s rotation method for selecting hosts).