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By Robertson S. Henry
Months after a new president was elected and the General-Secretary confirmed in that position, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation executive is yet to give answers as to who authorised use of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 logo by the St. Vincent Brewery in a game for profit.
At the Wednesday July 04, 2018 press conference convened by the executive of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, the media representative of www.sportcaraibe.com posed this question to the then Acting President: “Mr. Fraser, the World Cup is on and there is a local entity that has been using – from my knowledge of copyright law, an image which is the sole property of FIFA.”
The image in question is that of the logo Russia 2018 World Cup, and was printed on tee-shirts and caps in St. Vincent and the Grenadines by St. Vincent Brewery Ltd – manufacturers of Hairoun Beer, in a game for profit.
“Am asking if FIFA through the Federation had given them the rights to use that image locally?” he sportcaraibe.comjournalist further asked.
Just as the then acting president was about to respond, BDS Nice Radio sports reporter Justin Douglas interjected, saying: “For profit” to which the sportcaraibe.com sports journalist responded by saying “thank you.”
Douglas added, “That is the significant aspect.”
According to Fraser in his reply, “When I look I can tell you from my perspective because you are asking me a question that I am not a lawyer, I have not sat down with FIFA, I do not know their agreement with what happens with that logo.
“What I know is that when I am looking at the World Cup, I see people wearing jerseys with Messi lifting up a World Cup – the image, they have different jerseys, people have it painted on their back, people have it on their own personal caps, people have little things made up like the World Cup, so people do a lot with that World Cup logo.”
Fraser went on to state, “I don’t believe that a company like Hairoun who I know for sure has multiple lawyers, and have their board of directors, and all kind of people, will actually do something, that will tarnish their reputation, make them have to pay money and stuff if it comes down to it. That is the most that I can say on that.”
General Secretary Devron E. Poyer added saying that the Federation is aware of the use of the logo.
According to a FIFA document titled ‘Guidelines for the use of FIFA’s Official Marks’ and dated November 2016, “The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”) is the world governing body of association football. FIFA is the owner of all rights in relation to its tournaments, which includes all media, marketing, licensing and ticketing rights.
“Aside from the FIFA World Cup™, FIFA owns and organises other FIFA World Cup™ tournaments which include: FIFA U-20 World Cup, FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, FIFA U-17 World Cup, FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, FIFA Futsal World Cup, FIFA Interactive World Cup; collectively hereinafter referred to as “FIFA Tournaments.”
These FIFA Tournaments are held in various countries across the world every two or four years respectively, and enjoy major interest from local sports fans and the business world alike. A lot of entities, organisations, businesses and non-commercial organisations will want to be a part of each edition.
“Due to the enormous costs of staging such events, FIFA would not be able to organise these tournaments without the significant support of its sponsors, media rights and other licensees, the host countries and host cities, as well as the national Football Associations of the various host countries, which in turn create Local Organising Committees responsible for the organisation and staging of the tournaments. These stakeholders all make vital financial contributions to ensure that the respective tournament is adequately funded and can be staged.
“FIFA’s Rights Holders, all make vital financial contributions to ensure that FIFA’s Tournaments can be staged. In return for their support, FIFA’s Rights Holders are granted the exclusive right to use FIFA’s Official Marks.”
In explaining the importance of protecting tournament brands, the document further states: “Without the significant support of FIFA’s Rights Holders, FIFA would not be able to organise the FIFA Tournaments. The Rights Holders will only invest in the FIFA Tournaments if they are provided exclusivity for the use of the Official Marks.
“Without exclusivity, i.e. if the Brand of the Tournaments were not protected and anyone would be able to use the Official Marks and thereby create an association with any of the Tournaments for free, becoming a Rights Holder will be less attractive as the acquired rights would be significantly diluted. This would make appointing Rights Holders more difficult for FIFA and in turn could result in FIFA not being able to secure the necessary funding for the Tournaments from such revenues.
“Therefore, the protection of the commercial rights is crucial for staging the Tournaments, and FIFA asks that non-affiliated entities respect FIFA’s intellectual property and conduct their activities without commercially associating with the Tournaments.”
In explaining how to benefit without creating an authorised association: “The experience from previous FIFA Tournaments has shown that there are many ways a company can benefit from FIFA’s Tournaments without using the Official Marks or commercially associating itself with FIFA’s Tournaments.
“Many companies engage in activities seeking to celebrate FIFA’s Tournaments and to take advantage of the marketing opportunities which arise in connection with FIFA’s Tournaments. Such commercial association can be established when a company makes it appear as if there is a connection to FIFA’s Tournaments, either through use of the Official Marks, sponsorship or other affiliation.
“Companies which are not Commercial Affiliates may not engage in advertising activities that might give rise to an undue commercial association with the Tournaments and/or FIFA.
“FIFA encourages the public to get involved in supporting/celebrating FIFA’s Tournaments bearing the following in mind: Any generic football or country related images used without any of FIFA’s Intellectual Property allow the public to support their teams without creating any unauthorised association with FIFA’s Tournaments and/or FIFA.
“Any use of FIFA’s Intellectual Property without prior written authorisation from FIFA may create an unauthorised association with FIFA’s Tournaments and/or FIFA.
“We encourage you to seek independent legal advice to ensure any planned promotional activities are not infringing FIFA’s intellectual property and/or other commercial rights.”
Marvin Fraser then acting president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation further stated at the July 04, 2018 press conference, that “What I could say to you is different sponsors – Coca-Cola and all these people involved in World Cup. I know Hairoun deal with Coca-Cola at some point in time, maybe that, but nothing came through the executive, nothing came through the Federation, and so we have no knowledge of what has transpired. Maybe FIFA dealt with Hairoun directly, because Hairoun is more than just St. Vincent.”
Page 19 of the FIFA document points out that “Items with general football terms, or host country-related terms, or national flags, do not create an infringement of FIFA’s rights.
“Official Marks or any element thereof on any merchandising item constitutes an infringement of FIFA’s rights and is strongly discouraged.”
By email dated Wednesday October 24, 2018, questions regarding use of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 logo Devron Poyer – General Secretary of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, was written to.
That said email stated: “At the press conference hosted by the SVGFF on July 04, 2018 I asked the panel a question, regarding the use of the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup logo by the manufacturers of Hairoun Beer on tee-shirts and caps for use in a money-making enterprise.
“You responded by saying that the Federation is aware of the use of the logo. I asked if permission/authorisation was given by FIFA through its local representative the SVGFF, of if the SVGFF had granted permission for its use.
“No answer was given except that the matter would be looked into. Three months has since elapse and no indication as to the status of such. Therefore I am asking you in relation to the afore-mentioned, what are the answers to the questions asked:
“1. Was permission/authorisation was given by FIFA through its local representative the SVGFF for use of the logo by the Brewery?
“2. Did the SVGFF had granted permission for its use by the Brewery?
“Since Mr. Justin Douglas was present at the press briefing, this email is also copied to him.”
No response have been received from the General-Secretary, to the October 24, 2018 email, or an explanation if the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation as to who gave authorisation for use of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 logo in a game for profit.