Visa Inc. Expanding Global Football Portfolio Partnerships

File photo showing Visa logo. (Reuters)
Updated 06 December 2018
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Visa Inc. Expanding Global Football Portfolio Partnerships

  • Visa is partnering with the UEFA Women’s Football Competitions through 2025
  • These tournaments present an opportunity for the brand to build upon its success of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

SAN FRANCISCO: Visa, the Official Payment Services Partner of FIFA, has announced partnerships with the Union of European Football Associations’ (UEFA) Women’s Football Competitions and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Total Africa Cup of Nations tournament to evolve its sponsorship portfolio and connect with fans around the world. Leveraging its sponsorship expertise and success at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, Visa will implement its innovative payment technology at the tournament venues and deliver exclusive experiences for cardholders and clients. By tapping into the strength of the Visa brand and its influential role for fans in football, Visa will help to further elevate women’s football and these regional tournaments.
"Visa has strategically positioned itself at the center of football and these events will further exemplify the unique experiences only Visa can provide to fans across the globe," said Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer, Visa Inc. "These tournaments allow us distinctive opportunities to showcase Visa’s payment innovation, strengthen partnerships and highlight our evolved offerings to clients and fans."
Visa is partnering with the UEFA Women’s Football Competitions through 2025 to continue its efforts to inspire and empower women, as women’s football continues to grow at all levels. Through its partnership, Visa will collaborate with UEFA for the 2021 Women’s European Championships in the United Kingdom and the annual Women’s Champions League beginning in 2019. Complementing the national team tournament with the world’s finest club competition allows Visa to be at the center of women’s football and strengthens its efforts around diversity, acceptance, and inclusion leading up to the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™.
Visa also announced its partnership with CAF as a sponsor of the Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in 2019 and 2021. The deal will make Visa the exclusive payment services provider at all venues and the official partner of the player escort program. With CAF, Visa will be able to capitalize on football’s popularity throughout the continent, tap into high-growth markets and continue to deliver exclusive benefits to its local communities, clients, partners and fans as they come together to support the best of African football.
Visa, a FIFA partner since 2007, continues to drive toward new payment innovation that provides fans with faster and enhanced experiences at checkout. Whether it be remote and mobile ticket purchasing, contactless payment technology at transit locations, in-seat ordering or new ways to pay for retail, Visa will utilize its transit, retail and commerce expertise to deliver innovative payments that reimagine the fan experience.
These tournaments present an opportunity for the brand to build upon its success of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. Visa brought contactless payment technology to 12 tournament stadiums and curated unforgettable experiences for more than 250 clients and 3,000 consumers who traveled from over a hundred different countries. In 103 markets around the world, Visa partnered with more than 500 issuers and 40 merchants in 24 languages on a variety of FIFA-related activities, whether to run custom marketing programs, host in-market viewing parties or utilize Visa’s exclusive marketing campaign assets to drive mutual business priorities.
Following the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™ Draw on December 8, Visa will offer an exclusive opportunity for cardholders to be the first fans to purchase individual match tickets for the tournament. The exclusive presale phase will take place from December 10 through December 23 and tickets for all matches will be available. FIFA recently announced that 150,000 FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™ tickets have been sold since package sales opened in September.


Iran lays false trail to dodge US sanctions

Updated 36 min 45 sec ago
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Iran lays false trail to dodge US sanctions

  • Supertanker shipped fuel oil under forged Iraqi papers
  • Ship not in Basra port during cited loading period

SINGAPORE: At least two tankers have ferried Iranian fuel oil to Asia in recent months despite U.S. sanctions against such shipments, according to a Reuters analysis of ship-tracking data and port information, as well as interviews with brokers and traders.
The shipments were loaded onto tankers with documents showing the fuel oil was Iraqi. But three Iraqi oil industry sources and Prakash Vakkayil, a manager at UAE shipping services firm Yacht International Co, said the papers were forged.
The people said they did not know who forged the documents, nor when.
The transfers show at least some Iranian fuel oil is being traded despite the reimposition of sanctions in November 2018, as Washington seeks to pressure Iran into abandoning nuclear and missile programmes. They also show how some traders have revived tactics that were used to skirt sanctions against Iran between 2012 and 2016.
"Some buyers...will want Iranian oil regardless of U.S. strategic objectives to deny Tehran oil revenue, and Iran will find a way to keep some volumes flowing," said Peter Kiernan, lead energy analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
While the United States has granted eight countries temporary waivers allowing limited purchases of Iranian crude oil, these exemptions do not cover products refined from crude, including fuel oil, mainly used to power the engines of large ships.
Documents forwarded to Reuters by ship owners say a 300,000 tonne-supertanker, the Grace 1, took on fuel oil at Basra, Iraq, between Dec. 10 and 12, 2018. But Basra port loading schedules reviewed by Reuters do not list the Grace 1 as being in port during those dates.
One Iraqi industry source with knowledge of the port's operations confirmed there were no records of the Grace 1 at Basra during this period.
Reuters examined data from four ship-tracking information providers - Refinitiv, Kpler, IHS Markit and Vessel Finder - to locate the Grace 1 during that time. All four showed that the Grace 1 had its Automatic Identification System (AIS), or transponder, switched off between Nov. 30 and Dec. 14, 2018, meaning its location could not be tracked.
The Grace 1 then re-appeared in waters near Iran's port of Bandar Assaluyeh, fully loaded, data showed. The cargo was transferred onto two smaller ships in UAE waters in January, from where one ship delivered fuel oil to Singapore in February.
Shipping documents showed about 284,000 tonnes of fuel oil were transferred in the cargoes tracked by Reuters, worth about $120 million at current prices.
Officials at Iran's oil ministry declined to comment.
Singapore customs did not respond to requests for comment.
The Grace 1, a Panamanian-flagged tanker, is managed by Singapore-based shipping services firm IShips Management Pte Ltd, according to data. IShips did not respond to several requests for comment via email or phone.
A Reuters reporter visited the office listed on IShips' website but was told by the current tenant that the company had moved out two years earlier.
The ship-tracking data analysed by Reuters showed the Grace 1 emerged from the period when it did not transmit its location almost 500 kilometres south of Iraq. It was close to the Iranian coast with its draught - how deep a vessel sits in water - near maximum, indicating its cargo tanks were filled.
The Grace 1 transferred its cargo to two smaller tankers between Jan. 16 and 22 in waters offshore Fujairah in the UAE, data showed.
One of those vessels, the 130,000 tonne-capacity Kriti Island, offloaded fuel oil into a storage terminal in Singapore around Feb. 5 to 7. Reuters was unable to determine who purchased the fuel oil for storage in Singapore.
The Kriti Island is managed by Greece's Avin International SA.
The tanker was chartered by Singapore-based Blutide Pte for its voyage to Singapore, Avin International's Chief Executive Officer George Mylonas told Reuters. Mylonas confirmed the Kriti Island took on fuel oil from the Grace 1.
There is no indication that Avin International knowingly shipped Iranian fuel oil. Mylonas said his firm had conducted all necessary due diligence to ensure the cargo's legitimate origin.
Mylonas emailed Reuters a copy of a Certificate of Origin (COO) that he said was provided by the charterers – referring to Blutide - showing the Grace 1 loaded fuel oil at Basra on Dec. 10 and 12, 2018.
"The Certificate of Origin and all the information obtained did not reveal any connection with Iran, let alone that the cargo of fuel oil originated" from there, Mylonas wrote.
Mylonas said the Grace 1's owners, managers, shippers, receivers and charterers were screened by Avin International. "There were not circumstances that would make the COO of dubious origin," he said via email.
He said he had been told by the charterers that the Grace 1 only stopped in waters off Iran in late December and early January for "repairs of damaged diesel generators" before sailing to Fujairah.
The document provided by Mylonas says Iraq's state oil marketer SOMO certified the Grace 1 in December loaded a total of 284,261 tonnes of Iraqi fuel oil.
Reuters shared the document with a SOMO official in Iraq who said it was "faked" and "completely wrong". The official declined to be identified by name, citing the marketer's communications policy.
Two other Iraqi oil industry sources with direct knowledge of Basra port and oil industry operations also said the documentation was forged.
The two sources said the document bore the signature of a manager who was not working at Basra port on the stated dates. The document also bears contradictory dates: It indicates a loading period of Dec. 10 and 12, 2018 but a sign-off date for the transaction of Jan. 12, 2018.
Data showed the second tanker into which the Grace 1 transferred cargo was the Marshal Z, also a 130,000-tonne vessel.
It was bound for Singapore in the first half of February but changed course on Feb. 15, parking off western Malaysia. Reuters was unable to determine who owns the Marshal Z, nor who chartered it.
Around Feb. 25, the Marshal Z transferred its cargo to another vessel called the Libya, owned and managed by Tripoli-based General National Maritime Transport Company (GNMTC).
A GNMTC spokesman said the Libya was chartered by Blutide, the same Singapore firm that chartered the Kriti Island.
Blutide registered as a company in Singapore on May 14, 2018. Its sole listed shareholder and only director, Singaporean Basheer Sayeed, said by telephone on Feb. 7 he was retired and not in a position to comment on the company's activity.
The Libya's owner GNMTC "was not aware, at any stage that the cargo is linked in any way to Iran," the company's spokesman said via email.
GNMTC provided Reuters with a copy of a COO that it said was issued by shipping services company Yacht International, based in Fujairah, showing the Marshal Z loaded Iraqi-origin fuel oil during a ship-to-ship transfer in UAE waters on Jan. 23.
However, Yacht International shipping manager Prakash Vakkayil said in an email his firm did not issue the certificate and "considers it to be forged".
The GNMTC spokesman did not respond to follow-up questions from Reuters.