BEIJING - China's footballers may be struggling on the pitch but its companies are proving to be a big player, signing sponsorship deals with FIFA as the giant Asian nation looks to boost its chances of hosting the World Cup.

In the space of a year, football governing body FIFA has gained three major Chinese sponsors in conglomerate Wanda, Hisense -- the world's number three television manufacturer -- and smartphone maker Vivo, who concluded a deal just a week ago.

The new partnerships came as a welcome relief to football's governing body after FIFA's image and reputation was battered in recent years by a slew of corruption allegations involving former president Sepp Blatter. Sony, Emirates, Castrol, Continental and Johnson & Johnson all declined to renew their sponsorship deals, leaving FIFA struggling to find new backers.

"Vivo was very well received by FIFA, which was why (the deal) was concluded very quickly," said Mark Gao, CEO of the agency Momentum Sports, which brokered the sponsorship agreement. "Negotiations were tough on the amount, but lasted less than 100 days."

The Vivo deal comes 18 months after e-commerce world leader Alibaba signed a partnership with the FIFA Club World Cup, lending further ammunition to those who believe China will bid for the 2030 World Cup. When Wanda became a sponsor of FIFA at the beginning of 2016, its chief Wang Jianlin, known to have Beijing's ear, said the partnership "would increase the chances" of a Chinese World Cup. Gao says he too is now "convinced that the arrival of Chinese sponsors will promote and accelerate a Chinese bid for a World Cup".