MasterCard files suit against Fifa

 MUMBAI: With the football World cup less than two months away, one of Fifa's global partners, MasterCard International has filed a complaint in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking an injunction against Fifa.

The aim is to prevent Fifa from moving forward with an agreement with arch rival Visa International to sponsor the 2010 and 2014 editions of the World Cup.

It was recently revealed that Fifa had entered into that relationship despite having a contractual agreement giving MasterCard the right of first refusal to continue to be the category-exclusive sponsor of those events.

MasterCard's complaint states that after a period of negotiation in which Fifa assured MasterCard that it was not going to enter into an agreement with a third party, it proceeded in doing so.

Mastercard alleges that Fifa did this despite the fact that it had already provided MasterCard with a written contract, including all terms, which MasterCard signed and returned to Fifa, which then advised MasterCard that a deal with Visa was completed.

MasterCard International General Counsel Noah Hanft says, "This action by Fifa is a blatant and deceitful violation of our right of first refusal particularly as we had already signed and accepted Fifa's offer.”

MasterCard states that as part of its 2002-2006 agreement with Fifa, which was signed in 2002, the cerdit card major was granted the right of first refusal to be the official and exclusive payment solutions sponsor of future Fifa World Cup events. Therefore, Fifa was precluded from entering into such an agreement with Visa.

Hanft adds, "Among the key terms we bargained for in the 2002-2006 Fifa World Cup sponsorship negotiation was the right to obtain future FIFA World Cup sponsorship opportunities and a critical aspect of any sponsorship, particularly one as significant as Fifa World Cup, is continuity and the building of equity over time.

“MasterCard will vigorously pursue legal action to compel Fifa to honour the 96-page written and binding agreement it has with MasterCard, providing for us to be an official sponsor of the next two FIFA World Cups."

MasterCard International chief marketing officer Lawrence Flanagan says, “MasterCard continues to move forward with the important customer and consumer programming related to the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany, which begins in June. A significant number of our customer financial institutions, more than 300 of them, are activating business-building programmes worldwide.”

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