Visa International has signed an eight-year agreement to sponsor the Federation Internationale De Football Association World Cup, the world's largest sporting event. The agreement means Visa will be a sponsor of two of the world's most-watched sporting events, the World Cup and the Summer Olympics.
  Visa's World Cup sponsorship begins with the 2007 Women's World Cup in China and the 2010 Men's World Cup in South Africa, the first world-class sporting event held in Africa. The card association also will sponsor the 2011 Women's World Cup and 2014 Men's World Cup. Neither of those events has been awarded to a specific country.
  Visa says it will become one of six partners with global rights to a broad range of federation activities. The World Cup's other partners are Coca Cola, Adidas, Sony and Hyundai.
  The federation, which is based in Zurich, Switzerland, has not named the sixth partner.
  Visa will replace MasterCard International, which was a federation partner for the last three World Cups, including this year's event in Germany. In a statement, however, MasterCard has not ruled itself out as a sponsor of the 2010 and 2014 world cups.
  "Sponsorship programs related to the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups are a long way away, and we have many options to review prior to then," MasterCard said in a statement. Right now, MasterCard is focused on the many programs associated with our sponsorship of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany on behalf of our customer financial institutions and loyal cardholders around the globe."
  As a FIFA financial partner, Visa may be the only card accepted for the purchase of tickets and other merchandise, observers say. "Visa's partnership with FIFA provides us a global property that generates tremendous fan passion, bringing our cardholders programs that touch the very core of their enthusiasm for the sport-both globally and locally," says Michael Lynch, Visa USA's senior vice president for product marketing.
  Visa will pay an estimated $350 million to sponsor the World Cup, though it is not saying what it will pay. "That's the consensus opinion for a sponsorship at this level," says Marcus DiNitto, managing editor of Sports Business Daily in Charlotte, N.C. DiNitto says Visa will pay $200 million to World Cup owner FIFA for the right to use its logo in Visa's marketing materials. Visa also will spend another $150 million promoting the World Cup.
  "The agreement isn't any good unless Visa puts legs behind it," DiNitto says.
  Visa's deal with the federation gives Visa's six regions-the United States, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, Canada, Asia Pacific, Central Europe Middle East, and Africa-the right to use FIFA properties in their marketing.
  The 2007 Women's World Cup precedes Visa's sponsorship of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Visa also is sponsor of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. In addition, Visa will sponsor the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
  (c) 2006 Cards&Payments and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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