Mastercard to push debit card in Euro 2008

Mastercard is switching its sponsorship focus from its credit card brand to debit brand Maestro for football tournament Euro 2008. The financial giant claims the sponsorship of the football tournament will be the first pan-European promotion for debit cards.

The football championship will form an integral part of Mastercard’s Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) marketing and communications strategy.

From January next year, debit card holders throughout the SEPA zone must be provided with payment cards that allow them to make payments under the same basic conditions, rights and obligations, regardless of their location.

Mastercard will provide its partner banks with access to a series of "assets" which can be used to promote Maestro-branded debit cards across Europe. They will be able to run ticket competitions, and online and television branding campaigns.

Mastercard says not enough is being done by the industry to promote SEPA. Mastercard Europe group head of marketing Pedro Rangel says the tournament offers an "unparalleled" sponsorship opportunity: "The Euro 2008 football championship will be one of the major sporting events for Europe – if not the world – next year, and will be an unrivalled fit for those aiming to raise awareness of Maestro and Mastercard SEPA brands."

The Maestro debit brand replaces Switch in the UK. Mastercard signed a licensing deal with Switch Card Services in 2002 and has since phased out the Switch brand.