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MasterCard International, to build its global brand image, is trying to score a sponsorship deal for soccer's World Cup in 2002 and 2006, if it can get past the "sticker shock" of what such a deal would cost.

The credit card marketer, still in early negotiations with the Federation Internationale de Football Association, wants to rack up a deal similar to the eight-year commitment inked earlier this year by Coca-Cola Co.


MasterCard now is trying to determine whether the rising cost of World Cup sponsorship is worth it.

"The numbers are getting bigger -- sticker-shock type of numbers," said Joseph V. Tripodi, exec VP-global marketing, who declined to specify the figures.

ISL Marketing, FIFA's marketing partner, declined comment.

The World Cup is a huge event outside the U.S., especially in the European market MasterCard has been trying to develop through more aggressive branding. The fact that the event -- unlike the Olympics -- allows perimeter signage in arenas makes it all the more valuable, Mr. Tripodi said.

MasterCard expects Visa International to make a bid for the sponsorship; a Visa spokesman declined comment.

MasterCard first got involved with the World Cup in 1990 as a product licensee.

Extending the World Cup relationship would dovetail with MasterCard efforts to bring its global advertising together under one roof at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York.

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