Mastercard and Visa in Soccer Sponsorship Brawl

05 June 2006

NEW YORK - A three-way World Cup ruckus is brewing between FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) Visa and Mastercard, the latter having last week filed a lawsuit against the global soccer body in the Southern District Court of New York.

It accuses FIFA of "a blatant and deceitful violation of a right of first refusal granted to MasterCard", noting that the latter has over many years "paid tens of millions of dollars to be, and to have the option to continue being in the future, the official [payment system] sponsor of World Cup soccer".

The howl of big money-fuelled outrage is directed at a deal struck earlier this year between FIFA and Visa to the apparent exclusion of Mastercard [WAMN: 12-Apr-06]. The deal grants Visa global rights to a variety of FIFA tournaments from 2007 to 2014.

Visa declined comment save for a prim: "Suffice to say we're not going to get into any details about this until after this World Cup. We don't want to get in MasterCard's way."