FIFA can delay MasterCard deal while case is appealed

December 24, 2006

ZURICH, Switzerland -- FIFA does not have to immediately grant an eight-year sponsorship deal to MasterCard, pending an appeal of a judge's ruling that the credit card company is entitled to sponsor the 2010 and 2014 World Cup tournaments.

FIFA said a New York court ruled Friday that the organization can delay granting the deal to MasterCard. Such delays in implementing a judge's ruling are routine in cases under appeal.

FIFA requested the delay while appealing a Dec. 7 ruling by U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska in New York that said MasterCard was entitled to sponsor the next two World Cups despite Visa signing a deal with soccer's international governing body calling for it to receive the rights on Jan. 1.

The judge, in a 125-page ruling, said FIFA signed its deal with Visa even though MasterCard had a right of first refusal to sponsor the 2010 and 2014 events. After the ruling, FIFA fired four employees for dishonest sponsorship negotiations.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press