Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, smiled from the middle of the first row, in front of the stage where FIFA President Sepp Blatter was about to be elected to a fifth term as global soccer’s top boss.
At Wang’s side on May 29 sat another Blatter, Philippe, the nephew of the FIFA leader and chief executive officer of Infront Sports & Media AG, a sports-marketing company that does millions of dollars worth of business with FIFA. Wang’s Dalian Wanda Group Co. bought Infront four months ago, an acquisition that Wang said would help China raise its global soccer profile and, eventually, play host to a World Cup.
Wang’s entry into the Blatter family’s orbit comes as others are distancing themselves from FIFA’s leadership. Even the Vatican has backed away from the soccer organization spiraling in scandal.
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