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  • FIFA: Coke's Big Deal, Blatter in S.Africa


    Coke chairman E. Nevill Isdell with FIFA's Sepp Blatter in Cape Town. 
    (ATR) Coca-Cola has agreed to a record-setting $500 million sponsorship that will last for 22 years. Announcement of the new sponsorship was timed for FIFA President Sepp Blatter's latest visit to 2010 World Cup host South Africa.

    On hand to sign the Coke deal was chairman E. Nevill Isdell, indicating the importance of the sponsorship to the beverage giant, which is also one of the worldwide sponsors of the Olympics. Coke has been a FIFA sponsor since 1978.

    As part of its 2010 World Cup sponsorship, Coke will fund ae World Cup trophy tour in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. And it will make discount tickets available to address concerns that African soccer fans cannot afford seats to the matches in 2010.

    In other news from FIFA, Blatter expressed confidence in South Africa's preparations for the World Cup, dismissing concerns about public transit.

    "This is a crucial point. But before saying it will be a problem, let us identify the situation and if there is a problem, that problem will be resolved I'm sure," he told Reuters during his visit.

    "South Africa is progressing well," Blatter says.

    Blatter also told Reuters he is planning to seek another term as FIFA president in 2007.

    In an interview with a Swiss weekly, Blatter says FIFA may consider whether to drop the playing of national anthems at international matches.

    There were complaints from last week's notorious match between Switzerland and Turkey of whistling during the playing of the national anthems. That match ended in fighting between players as they left the pitch in Istanbul.

    "I feel this whistling shows a great lack of respect and disparaging to national pride, said Blatter.

    "I wonder, therefore, whether it even makes sense to play these national anthems?" he asked.

    Due to a holiday in the U.S., the weekly issue of Around the Rings will not be published this week. It will return on December 2.