NEW YORK: MasterCard and soccer's global governing body FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) have locked horns in a US court over sponsorship of the World Cup tournament - a right enjoyed by the credit card giant for 16 years but which has now been awarded to arch rival Visa

The Purchase, New York-headquartered company claims FIFA violated the terms of its contract by signing a deal with Visa after it had drafted an agreement with MasterCard to renew the sponsorship for a further eight years.

It says the move by FIFA was "a blatant and deceitful violation" of a written agreement.

The sponsorship rights, which are estimated to cost between $35 million (€27m; £18m) and $40m, are highly coveted by the credit card rivals, both of which are vying to boost their market share in football strongholds like Latin America.

MasterCard's sponsorship of this summer's World Cup in Germany gave it the right to be the only card accepted for advance-ticket sales. The company also worked with local banks to increase credit-card use through assorted promotions.

San Francisco-based Visa's contract with FIFA is set to begin in January. In addition it owns sponsorship rights for the Olympics through 2012.

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff