Hyundai is already a winner in the World Cup sponsorship stakes

Neckarsulm, Germany. Hyundai has played its German rivals off the park when it comes to sponsoring the world's biggest sporting event.

The Korean automaker is one of the main sponsors for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Hyundai plan several marketing measures to co-incide with the soccer championships.

The automaker will organize big public events in the 12 German cities that will stage World Cup games. The company will also produce some special models with a soccer theme.

"It's a new dimension in sponsoring for Hyundai," said Karl-Heinz Engels, boss of Hyundai Motor Deutschland.

Engels said Hyundai beat German automakers in the sponsorship stakes because it got there early.

The Korean manufacturer's partnership with Uefa, the World Cup organizers, and Fifa, Europe's ruling body for soccer, goes back to 1999.

"The German manufacturers would have needed to apply in good time to be considered as sponsors. It seems that that they did not so," said Engels.

Hyundai sponsored the European Cup in Belgium and Holland in 2000; the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan and the Women's World Cup in the USA in 2003.

Hyundai is also sponsoring the Olympic Games in Athens this summer.

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