MasterCard International is urging member banks to sponsor youth soccer teams from their cities to participate in the MasterCard International Sister Cities Cup tournament in Louisville, Ky. July 26-30.

The soccer tournament will be held in conjunction with the Sister Cities International Conference an event that is expected to draw representatives of more than 2,500 sister cities worldwide, according to Louisville officials.

Up to 100 youth soccer teams from these cities will be invited to Louisville to compete in the tournament sanctioned by the United States Youth Soccer Association.  The teams will be comprised of both boys’ and girls’ divisions, ages 8 through 18.

President Eisenhower supported the sisterhood idea in the 1950s as a way to thaw cold war tensions, and Sister City relationships continue to thrive.  For instance, the city of Atlanta is in the process of formalizing a Sister City agreement with Bucharest, Romania, a relationship that former Mayor Maynard Jackson encouraged.  Atlanta currently has 11 Sister City relationships in place that date from the first relationship that started in 1967 with  ties to Salzburg, Austria, to the latest with Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia that occurred in 1988.

While started with the idea of fostering educational and cultural exchanges, Sister City relationships are increasingly focused on developing commercial ties. The soccer tournament is a new wrinkle encouraged by MasterCard which also is one of the World Cup’s official sponsors.

For more information about the tournament, Carol Butler may be reached in Louisville by calling (502) 574-3397 or by sending a fax to (502) 895-0136.  In Atlanta, Jeff Kerpics of MasterCard may be reached by calling (404) 390 1783 or by sending a fax at (404) 390 1759.