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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 12, 2006

Heads roll at FIFA over sponsorship ruling

BERNE, Switzerland, Dec 12 (Reuters) - FIFA has dismissed marketing director Jerome Valcke and three other employees following last week's New York court ruling against world soccer's governing body in a sponsorship case.

In a statement on Tuesday, FIFA acknowledged its World Cup sponsorship negotiations with rival credit card firms Visa and MasterCard had 'breached (FIFA's) business principles', adding that 'FIFA cannot possibly accept such conduct among its own employees'.

FIFA said in the context of the contract talks, the four had been accused of 'repeated dishonesty during negotiations and of giving false information to the FIFA deciding bodies in question.'

The statement added FIFA were 'considering lodging an appeal against the court's judgment, while taking account of the interests of every party involved and seeking suitable solutions.'

A U.S. District Judge overturned FIFA's planned eight-year sponsorship deal with Visa last week following a federal lawsuit brought by MasterCard.

As previous sponsors of the World Cup finals, MasterCard successfully demonstrated they had a right of first refusal on any future arrangements.

In her ruling, judge Loretta Preska said the FIFA negotiators had 'lied repeatedly to MasterCard', including when they assured the company that FIFA 'would not sign a deal for the post-2006 sponsorship rights with anyone else unless it could not reach agreement with MasterCard.'

Visa announced in April it had signed an eight-year deal with FIFA, which sources said was worth up to 200 million pounds ($392.3 million).

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