NEW YORK: Credit card giant MasterCard has accepted a $90 million (€67m; £45.1m) settlement from soccer's global governing body FIFA to end a lawsuit over sponsorship of the World Cup tournament.

The company began its bitter legal battle in 2006 when FIFA named payment-system rival Visa International as sponsors for the 2010 event in South Africa and the 2014 tournament.

MasterCard cried foul, claiming it had right of first refusal to a deal for the world's most watched sports event with which it had been teamed for 16 years. A US district judge agreed with its contention but the ruling was overturned in December before being referred to the appeal courts last month [WARC News: 29-May-07].

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the organisation "has, first of all, resolved a problem, and, secondly - much more importantly - has paved the way to a good, new partner that will support it and its manifold activities efficiently all around the world."

MasterCard cmo Larry Flanagan said the decision to settle with FIFA was based on "irreparable damage" to the company's trust in its erstwhile partner.

He added: "We get the flexibility of not being locked in a four-year cycle and we move on from here."

Visa, which reportedly paid $200m for the sponsorship rights, was not a defendant in the lawsuit.

Spokesman Michael Sherman commented: "Visa has followed this case with great interest and we are pleased to see that FIFA has worked with MasterCard to resolve this issue."

Data sourced from Brand Republic (UK); additional content by WARC staff