Mastercard Scores Penalty Against FIFA and Visa

11 December 2006

NEW YORK: US District Judge Loretta Preska, ruled in a Manhattan court last week against soccer's ruling body FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), nullifying its World Cup sponsorship and ad rights deal with payment system Visa.

The lawsuit, brought by New York state headquartered MasterCard, claimed that FIFA had violated the terms of its contract by signing a deal with Visa after drafting an agreement with MasterCard to renew the sponsorship for a further eight years.

It argued that the move by FIFA was "a blatant and deceitful violation" of a written agreement [WARC News: 6-November-06].

Judge Preska directed FIFA to reinstate its former contract with MasterCard for the period 2007-2014. Clearly a fan of the latter's commercials, Preska said: "MasterCard's loss of the next FIFA World Cup sponsorship would be, in its now-famous word, 'priceless'".

FIFA declared itself "dismayed" by the ruling, insisting it had "at all times it acted in good faith". It would "vigorously pursue its case".

Visa said it was disappointed by the verdict and was "considering all options".

The next World Cup will be held in South Africa in 2010, before which time the matter will likely have undergone one several penalty shootouts in which every goal scored will be kicked by a team of lawyers.

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff