Swiss sports marketing group ISMM, whose stable includes ISL Worldwide, the holder of global marketing rights for the 2002 and 2006 soccer World Cup events, has collapsed following the failure of its legal application [WAMN: 6-Apr-01] for a stay in bankruptcy proceedings.

The stay, refused last week, has triggered something close to panic in the closeted world of soccer’s governing body FIFA, which has convened an emergency meeting today to discuss the crisis. ISMM is believed to have already paid FIFA the agreed minimum payment of SFr1.4bn ($809m) for the rights to the two tournaments, but the sports body now fears that these could end up in different hands.

The vultures are already hovering. German communications colossus Kirch Gruppe and Vivendi, the Paris-based global media giant, are said to be poised to pounce as soon as ISMM’s bankruptcy is formalised by the Cantonal Court in Zug, Switzerland.

There are rich pickings for grabs – ISSM controls not only the soccer World Cup rights but also those for men's tour tennis, World Championship athletics and .many other prime events.

News source: Financial Times