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Sohu to Fight for World Cup Rights

Chinese portal Sohu.com is to take legal action against the China Football Association (CFA) for breaking an agreement which initially enabled it to become the designated Chinese website for the World Cup.

CFA on Sunday released a statement claiming that the association has not signed an official agreement with Sohu.com. CFA has also denied its partnership with Sohu.com.

"CFA has never granted Sohu.com any title relating to the 2002 World Cup and Sohu.com should stop using the CFA logo on their website," said CFA in a statement.

Charles Zhang, chief executive officer of Sohu.com said Monday in a press conference in Beijing: "The behaviour of CFA is not an appropriate one and we will try our best to protect our rights."

"We are discussing with related law departments a right time to take legal action," he added.

Sources said that on January 17, CFA agreed to grant Beijing-based Sports-01.com the name of the designated website for China's Football Team to the 2002 World Cup.

On February 9, a press conference was held by Sport-01.com and Sohu.com to jointly run the website dubbed "China's Football Team to the 2002 World Cup."

Zhang Jilong, CFA vice-chairman, also attended the press conference. The website was officially launched on March 18.

"We had talks lasting three months with CFA and its statement on Sunday make us very unhappy," said Zhong Lide, board chairman of Sport-01.com.

"We are going to suffer a lot due to CFA's behaviour," said Charles Zhang.

Sohu.com is talking with companies about advertising on its World Cup website, including the home appliance maker TCL.

Sohu's reputation may also be disdained as investors may think that the site provides fake information, he emphasized.

Sohu.com said on Tuesday its first-quarter net loss narrowed by 47 percent year-on-year with revenues of US$4.5 million.

(China Daily April 30, 2002)

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