Kirch pact won’t kick Cup

BERLIN — Reports running through the German press that media heavyweight the Kirch Group could loose its broadcasting rights to the World Cups in 2002 and 2006 were denied Friday by the Kirch Group and FIFA, soccer’s governing body.

The reports suggested that the Kirch Group’s signing of a distribution contract with Prisma Sports and Media AG, a Swiss marketing agency, could have cost them the prized rights, as FIFA doesn’t allow deals involving a third party.

According to FIFA spokesman Keith Cooper, FIFA objected to Kirch bringing in a third party without discussing it with its partners, but had not endangered the contract.

The Kirch Group, which shares the world soccer broadcasting rights, except for America, with the Swiss agency ISL, said that bringing in Prima to design its World Cup distribution strategy didn’t violate its agreement.

ISL is reportedly unhappy with the employment of a competitor, Prisma, grounded by former ISL managers.

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