Olswang beats Addleshaws and Niederer to Fifa contract

Olswang has won a beauty parade to advise the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) on the sale of its media rights to the 2010 World Cup.

Olswang beat Addleshaw Goddard and Swiss firm Niederer Kraft & Frey to the coveted appointment, both of which have advised Fifa on media rights in the past.

An Addleshaws spokesperson said the firm was focussing on the day-to-day business of sports rather than on one-off events, and that it was aware of conflicts that may arise from the firm advising other clients such as the Football League and the Football Association in addition to Fifa.

Niederer is likely to have a role on the deal checking that Olswang’s contracts are valid under Swiss law. Fifa’s governing body is based in Geneva.

David Zeffman, Olswang head of media, communications and technology, led the pitch with Michael Brader, who heads up the sports group. Competition partner Howard Cartlidge and disputes partners Martin Davies and Dan Tench will also work on the project.

The Olswang team will also enlist the help of local law firms in other significant jurisdictions.

Fifa is handling the worldwide sale of its media rights in-house after sports marketing agency ISL, which it used to handle the media rights for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, went bankrupt in 2001. It is hoping to avoid the debacle that followed ISL’s sale of the rights to German company KirchMedia, which also went bust.

Manchester United director Maurice Watkins’ firm James Chapman & Co and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have advised Fifa on other issues. Freshfields helped develop the World Cup cancellation bond, which transferred the risk of cancellation to the capital markets.