The Commercial Restriction Area during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The Commercial Restriction Area during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The Enactment of Law No. 10 of 2021 regarding the Measures for Hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 (the “Enabling Law”) created for the first time the  Commercial Restriction Area (“CRA”). In this article we provide insight into the details of the CRA.

The CRA

The CRA is defined as the area adjacent to the Stadium or any of the Events Location which is determined by FIFA with a radius that does not exceed 2 kilometers, including the airspace above, calculated from the middle of the stadium or Events Location, in which it is prohibited to exercise any commercial and other activities on match day and the day preceding it without the approval of FIFA.

In essence, the purpose of imposing a commercially restricted area whereby certain commercial activities  are not permitted without the approval of FIFA, is to ensure that the commercial commitments that FIFA has undertaken with its commercial sponsors is honored, allowing such entities exclusivity in selling and advertising their products near Events Locations during the Competition Period.

It is worth noting that during  the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 which was also held in Qatar, FIFA required existing businesses in the CRA to refrain from using any branding on match days. This meant that the businesses were not allowed to use and sell any products that had any labels including the businesses’ logo on sold items such as plastic bags and food wrappings and instead to use plain packaging. These exiting businesses were also prohibited from making any promotional offerings that would target fans attending on match days such as distributing flyers or giving free promotional items or having human billboards outside the establishment.

Prohibition on advertising

Article (28) of the Enabling Law expressly prohibits advertising or promoting in any other method in the CRA during the Competition Period, with that period starting two days prior to the date of the preliminary or final draw ceremonies, and until the day following the end of the draw ceremonies unless authorized by FIFA or its delegate. This limited prohibition is aimed at protecting FIFA’s brand and its sponsors commercial rights during the days that would receive the most traffic from fans.

FIFA’s right to object

In case of any alleged violation in relation to unauthorized advertising, Article (28) of the Enabling Law affords FIFA the right to submit a request to the Supreme Committee to remove the violating  advertisement. The Competent Authority shall immediately take down this advertisement.

Existing business

Currently, the CRA’s include several businesses that will remain operating in the CRA during the Competition period. In this respect, Article (29) of the Enabling Law allows preexisting business establishments which are lawfully operating within the CRA to exercise any commercial activities unless FIFA objects to such activity in writing.

Consequently, the CRA Plan includes information in relation to the type of activities allowed to be exercised in the CRA.

It is worth noting that during  the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 which was also held in Qatar, FIFA required existing businesses in the CRA to refrain from using any branding on match days. This meant that the businesses were not allowed to use and sell any products that had any labels including the businesses’ logo on sold items such as plastic bags and food wrappings and instead to use plain packaging. These exiting businesses were also prohibited from making any promotional offerings that would target fans attending on match days such as distributing flyers or giving free promotional items or having human billboards outside the establishment.

In previous tournaments, FIFA adopted a registration process to allow existing business in the CRA to submit the required documents in order to receive an approval to operate in the CRA within the previously discussed restrictions.

Accordingly, FIFA recently published the FIFA World Qatar 2022 Business Operations in Commercial Restriction Area (“CRA Plan”)  on its website at :

https://digitalhub.fifa.com/m/31da92a787a8641c/original/FIFA-World-Cup-Qatar-2022-Business-Operations-in-Commercial-Restriction-Area-EN.pdf

The CRA Plan details the specific rules governing the CRAs including the rules that existing businesses operating in the CRAs will need to adopt during the Competition Period. The CRA plan also includes a map of each of the CRAs clearly identifying the bounders of the areas.

CRA locations

The CRAs for the Competition will be established around the stadiums and the FIFA Fan Festivals.

The CRA Plan lists a total of ten (10) CRAs  for the Competition in the following locations:

  • Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium
  • Al Bayt Stadium
  • Al Janoub Stadium
  • Al-Thumamma Stadium
  • Education City Stadium
  • Khalifa International Stadium
  • Lusail Stadium
  • Ras Abu Aboud Stadium (974 stadium)
  • OPF CRA at Al Ahmed Square near Souq Waqif.
  • CRA at Fan Festival alongside Cornish.

Prohibition on advertising

Article (28) of the Enabling Law expressly prohibits advertising or promoting in any other method in the CRA during the Competition Period, with that period starting two days prior to the date of the preliminary or final draw ceremonies, and until the day following the end of the draw ceremonies unless authorized by FIFA or its delegate. This limited prohibition is aimed at protecting FIFA’s brand and its sponsors commercial rights during the days that would receive the most traffic from fans.

FIFA’s right to object

In case of any alleged violation in relation to unauthorized advertising, Article (28) of the Enabling Law affords FIFA the right to submit a request to the Supreme Committee to remove the violating  advertisement. The Competent Authority shall immediately take down this advertisement.

Existing business

Currently, the CRA’s include several businesses that will remain operating in the CRA during the Competition period. In this respect, Article (29) of the Enabling Law allows preexisting business establishments which are lawfully operating within the CRA to exercise any commercial activities unless FIFA objects to such activity in writing.

Consequently, the CRA Plan includes information in relation to the type of activities allowed to be exercised in the CRA.

The CRA Plan refers to this issue as the “ business as usual principle”. According to this, FIFA’ intention aims at limiting the impact on permanent local business located in the CRA at least six (6) months before the start of the Competition. Hence, any business that are already operational in any of the CRA locations can still operate during the Competition Period unless FIFA Objects to such in writing.

The CRA Plan provides examples of prohibited activity which shall be objected to by FIFA and requires authorization from FIFA:

  • Commercial activities of business which commences their operation as of six (6) months of the first match of the Competition (which is 21 May 2022) or install additional outward facing branded signage or store decorations.
  • Mobile sales operations and business which do not operate out of a permanent, unmovable structure (such as, but not limited to hawkers, food trucks/containers).

The CRA Plan also includes an example of the following prohibited activities applicable to even preexisting business in the CRA:

  • Distributing flyers, brochures, samples, free giveaways, or any other promotional materials.
  • Deploying promotional teams, including human billboards and sign holders outside the premises.
  • Any other outward facing commercial activity that promotes a brand or brands including but not limited to branded chairs, tables or umbrellas placed outside the premises.

Authorization Process  for preexisting business

The CRA Plan provides that all preexisting businesses in operation six (6) months prior to the beginning on the Competition Period (i.e., on 21 May 2022) shall be deemed authorized to operate based on the rules set out in the CRA Plan.

Authorization process on Match days

It is mandatory for all business whether preexisting or new  to obtain FIFA authorization to operate on match days or the days prior to match days.

The following activities needs FIFA’s authorization to operate on match days or days preceding to matches:

  • New business opening on or after 21 May 2022.
  • Alteration/change to existing businesses including exterior branding on or after 21 May 2022
  • Mobile sales operations and business which do not operate out of a permanent unmovable structure ( for example: hawkers, food trucks/ containers).
  • New outdoor media.

The authorization form can be accessed on the following link: https://fifa.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_87E1PLwAGl32mwe

Application must be submitted by no later than 21 October 2022 and must contain the following information:

  1. Business name, address, contact information inducing email address and telephone number.
  2. Description of type of business and products/services offered.
  3. Location map.
  4. Photos/ mock ups of current or planned branding.

Any application submitted after 21 October 2022 will automatically be rejected.

Applicants will be informed of the decision within 14 days from the date of submission of the application. The decision will be either of the following :

  • Full operations allowed.
  • Restricted operation allowed (for example the branding must be partially covered).

No operation allowed.

Penalties

Article (38) of the Enabling Law provides for penalties for any violation of Articles (28) & (29) which addresses the prohibition of commercial activities in the CRA. The article imposes a penalty of imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year and a fine not exceeding 500,000 QAR or either of the two penalties. The severity of the aforementioned penalty recognizes  FIFA’s exclusive right to exercise commercial activities in the CRA during the Competition period.

Key Contact

Salman Al-Ansari                                                 Khadeja Al-Zarraa

Partner                                                                Senior Associate

salansari@alansarilaw.com                                kalzarraa@alansarilaw.com

About Al-Ansari & Associates

Al-Ansari & Associates is a leading law firm based in Doha, the State of Qatar. Being the fastest growing firm in the State of Qatar, we are proud to have supported both local and international clients with multi jurisdictional qualified lawyers. The firm's practice is focused on core areas such as corporate and commercial, Banking and Finance, regulatory and compliance, Labour and Employment, TMT, Intellectual Property and Copyright, Real Estate and Contraction, Energy and Natural Resources, Transport and Infrastructure and Dispute Resolution. Al-Ansari & Associates provides its clients legal expertise with international standards.

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