The Commercial Restriction Area during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The Commercial Restriction Area during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

On 29 July 2021, his Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani enacted Law No. 10 of 2021 regarding the Measures for Hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 (the “Enabling Law”). The enactment of the Enabling Law is a significant milestone in Qatar’s preparations for hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 (“Competition”) through which Qatar seeks to ensure that key stakeholders’ commercial interests are protected, and to ensure that Qatar’s numerous commitments in its bid for the Competition are honored.

As sole counsel, Al-Ansari & Associates has been integral to the process of developing such legislation. The Enabling Law is the cornerstone of the operational set-up for the Competition as it implements the commitments made by the State of Qatar in the Government Guarantees,  Hosting Agreement and Host City Agreements which each bidding nation executes as part of its bid book. In essence, the Government Guarantees and the Hosting Agreements govern the contractual relationship between FIFA as the owner of the Competition, and the State of Qatar as the hosting nation, and details the obligations of Qatar in relation to key hosting requirements. These requirements include but are not limited to matters pertaining to commercial rights; safety and security; immigration; taxes; and other intellectual property rights.

In this article we provide insight into the Commercial Restriction Area (“CRA”) which was introduced in the Enabling Law.

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. During the Competition, it is expected that there will be a CRA in all eight designated stadiums.

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. It is expected that FIFA will announce the rules to apply to the preexisting businesses in the CRA prior to the Competition as it has done in previous tournaments. Those rules typically define preexisting businesses as those businesses operating in the CRA before the beginning of the Competition such as for example six months before the start of the Competition.

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.

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.

Should you have any questions regarding the Enabling Law, please do feel free to contact us.

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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