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Visa blocked from helping to challenge MasterCard for World Cup sponsorship

Summary

Visa sponsorship in question due to MasterCard and FIFA lawsuit.

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Visa will not be allowed to take part in litigation between MasterCard and soccer association FIFA over how World Cup sponsorship was awarded last spring.  The decision by a U.S. appeals court, handed down on Nov. 6, 2006, upholds a September ruling by the U.S. District Court in New York, which is handling the case.

MasterCard has sued FIFA for awarding the eight-year sponsorship of the World Cup soccer tournament to Visa.  MasterCard had sponsored the World Cup and related events for the last 16 years, and the credit card payments network argues that is had right of first refusal for a new agreement.

Meanwhile, Visa, which was not named in the MasterCard case, has tried to join the legal wrangling since it will be impacted by the result.  Visa stated that although its request to take part in the suit was turned down, it remains confident that its contract rights will be honored.  Visa added that it eagerly expects to start the sponsorship in January 2007.

However, MasterCard continues to work for a preliminary injunction to halt Visa’s progress.  According to MasterCard’s general counsel, the credit card organization still feels it has a solid legal basis for pressing FIFA to grant MasterCard the right to be an official sponsor of the next two FIFA World Cup tournaments.

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