Visa shelves search for World Cup agency

Visa has suspended its search for an agency to build on its sponsorship of the next two football World Cups, after a US court ruled last week that FIFA was wrong to strip rival MasterCard of its sponsorship rights.

Visa had been handed the rights for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups in a deal worth £150m. However, MasterCard challenged the agreement, arguing that as it was the incumbent, it should have had first refusal for future tournaments; it has been the official credit-card sponsor of the World Cup for the past 16 years.

FIFA said it was 'dismayed' by the judge's decision and will appeal against it. Visa also expressed disappointment. It has put its plans to hire an agency to handle the £100m global brief on ice, having narrowed it down to two shops, Wieden & Kennedy and RKCR/Y&R.

Visa had invited all its roster agencies to pitch for the brief, which would have involved creating work around the World Cup until the 2014 tournament.

The judge who ruled in the case said FIFA had not dealt honourably with MasterCard. The governing body had begun negotiating with a rival in an exclusive 90-day period that should have been afforded to MasterCard to decide whether to renew its sponsorship deal.


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