Friday, May 25, 2007

Mastercard, Visa still in court over FIFA World Cup

An American appeals court has ordered a lower court to revisit a ruling that returned a coveted sponsorship deal for the FIFA World Cup football tournaments to MasterCard Inc. Last December, US District Judge Loretta Preska ruled that MasterCard, not rival Visa International, should be granted a further eight-year contract with football's governing body, FIFA. MasterCard already had sponsored the tournament for 16 years.

However a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said Preska needed to clarify whether a 2006 agreement between MasterCard and FIFA was binding and whether it would supersede a 2002 contract under which MasterCard contended it had the right of first refusal on a new pact. At the same time, the appellate court said: "The district court is free to reconsider other aspects of its original decision and relief ordered if the answer to the question for which we have remanded the case causes the court to rethink one or more of its rulings."

MasterCard, in a statement, said that it "looks forward to Judge Preska addressing this particular issue and final resolution of the ongoing matter," reported Martha Graybow for Reuters. FIFA said the appellate ruling was what the football body "has already long requested, that it clarify the question of which contract between FIFA and MasterCard is valid. In this respect, FIFA is very pleased with the judgement." Visa said it had no immediate comment. The appeals court last year rejected Visa's bid to become a party to the lawsuit.

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