Dubai-based Emirates signed on 18 April a $195 million deal with football’s governing body, FIFA, to become the federation’s final major international sponsor.

The eight-year agreement will place the airline alongside the likes of Visa and Coca-Cola, both of the US, Germany’s Adidas-Saloman, Japan’s Sony Corporation and Hyundai Motor Company of South Korea (MEED 8:10:04).

Under the terms of the agreement, which will come into force in 2007, the Dubai government-owned carrier will be the official airline of the 2014 and 2018 football World Cups.

The deal will also mean future FIFA events will be broadcast free-to-air across the federation.

The deal is the latest football sponsorship agreement by the airline. In March, it signed a three-year sponsorship deal with German Bundesliga outfit Hamburger SV.

Last year, it became the first airline to become an official partner for a World Cup competition and in October 2004 it signed a $180 million sponsorship agreement with Arsenal Football Club.

The deal, which was the largest in UK football club sponsorship history, gave the airline exclusive naming rights to the club’s new stadium for 15 years from the 2006/07 season and covered an eight-year shirt sponsorship deal.