Fifa sack four over lies to sponsors

Fifa has sacked four top executives in the wake of a damaging US court judgement that ruled that world football's governing body had "lied repeatedly" in negotiations with its sponsors, MasterCard.

The four - television and marketing director, Jerome Valcke, plus marketing executives Stefan Schuster, Tom Houseman and Rob Lampman - have been dismissed after being named in the court judgement as having seriously misled the credit card company.

The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, decided on swift action to limit any damage caused by the controversy. A Fifa statement read: "The Fifa employees who had conducted negotiations with Visa and MasterCard were accused of repeated dishonesty during negotiations and of giving false information.

"Even though the judgement has proved to be very biased in favour of MasterCard, the fact cannot be overlooked that Fifa's negotiations breached its business principles. Fifa cannot possibly accept such conduct among its own employees."

The statement said it was considering an appeal against the court ruling but it is understood that is now unlikely. A Fifa source said: "We are determined to act ethically and we are doing the right thing."

The court ruling said Fifa breached its obligation to give MasterCard first refusal on post-2006 sponsorship when they agreed a deal with Visa instead.

The ruling stated: "Fifa's negotiators lied repeatedly to MasterCard, including when they assured MasterCard that... Fifa would not sign a deal for the post-2006 sponsorship rights with anyone else unless it could not reach agreement with MasterCard."

It says that the negotiators provided Visa with blow-by-blow updates of the MasterCard negotiations - "an action Fifa's president admitted would not be 'fair play'."

It continued: "Fifa's marketing director Valcke lied to both MasterCard, Fifa's long-time partner, and to Visa.

"When Visa raised its bid to the same level as MasterCard's, he declined his subordinates' suggestion to give MasterCard the opportunity to submit a higher bid based on his concern for his own reputation with the Fifa Board. He also declined his subordinates' recommendation that he recommend to the Fifa Board that it continue with its prior approval of MasterCard as the post-2006 sponsor."

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