SPECIAL REGULATIONS FOR THE WORLD CUP

21 Nov, 2022
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Maria Lorenza Cremaschi

Legal Advisor, Manager Director of the Spanish Desk, and a Senior Business Lawyer at United Advocates & Legal Consultants

Such an important event requires a specific set of laws to protect the interests of stakeholders, tournament participants, contractors, suppliers, and holders of commercial rights related to the World Cup.

Thus, the State of Qatar enacted Law No. 10/2021 which covers the following areas:

  1. Procedures for entering, leaving, and working in the State of Qatar during the World Cup and its related activities.
  2. Tax Exemptions.
  3. Security and Protection.
  4. Banking and Exchange Operations.
  5. FIFA’s Intellectual Property Rights.
  6. Broadcasting and Advertising.

It should be clarified that this law must not exceed the "Competition Period", which is defined as the period beginning ten (10) days before the first match in the Competition and ending five (5) days after the last match in the Cup.

Below we will see in more detail the provisions of Law No. 10/2021.

  1. Procedures for Entry, Exit, and Work Authorizations

A significant number of people are expected to come/go/enter/visit Qatar in search of employment because of the World Cup. Therefore, the State of Qatar has undertaken to grant entry visas to foreign citizens who wish to attend the Cup. This procedure would be simplified to allow foreigners to enter the country without problems.

Foreign nationals can be recruited as volunteers by FIFA or the Supreme Committee without obtaining a work permit.

However, these entry visas expire five days after the last match of the tournament, which according to the official World Cup calendar will be on December 18, 2022.

FIFA, its affiliated organizations, the Continental Federations, the National Football Associations, the Supreme Committee, suppliers of goods, labor contractors, service providers, FIFA contractors, FIFA business partners broadcasters of events, and foreign citizens participating in the World Cup will not be subject to the labor laws in force in the State of Qatar. These workers/employees will be subject to the provisions contained in their contracts, which govern the relationship between the parties, including working hours, compensation, and termination.

  1. Tax exemptions

Normally tax in the State of Qatar is different from the measures for the Qatar World Cup period. However, due to the nature of the World Cup, Qatar has exempted certain entities from paying taxes.

The following entities will be exempt from all fees and taxes (without prejudice to the exemption limits dictated by the decision of the Minister of Finance):

  • FIFA and its affiliated organizations.
  • The Continental Confederations.
  • National Football Associations.
  • FIFA World Cup QATAR 2022 LLC.
  • The Supreme Committee and its affiliated entities.
  • Contractors with FIFA.
  • Goods providers.
  • Building contractors.
  • Service providers.
  • FIFA Business Partners.
  • Event announcers.
  • Individuals appointed or contracted by any of the above entities.
  • Foreign nationals participating in events, matches, and other events adopted or approved by FIFA or accompanying the 2022 World Cup.
  1. Security and Protection Measures

Ensuring a safe and secure event is of great importance to Qatar as the host nation and to FIFA as the owner/organizer of the event.

The President of the Security Committee will have the power to make decisions and instruct the necessary security measures during the Cup.

The President of the Security Committee has the power to suspend some of the provisions of the laws in force in the State of Qatar during the Cup, in accordance with the Government Guarantees. Any measure of this type will be published in the media so that the public is informed.

Pursuant to article 12 of the law, all government and non-government medical agencies shall attend to emergency cases and provide medical assistance to visitors and other attendees during the Cup, in accordance with the procedures determined by the Ministry of Public Health.

Although Qatar Law No. 10/2021 does not clarify whether the international public attending the World Cup must have medical insurance, it is recommended that when entering the country, it be with medical insurance with international coverage.

  1. Banking and Foreign Exchange Operations

The Law states that there will be no restrictions on the purchase and sale of Qatari State currency and foreign currency during the Cup period. This includes the inflow and outflow of currency to the State of Qatar, which currently has limits that are set on a certain declared amount. This applies specifically when it comes to US dollars, euros, and Swiss francs. It aims to facilitate the exchange of different currencies by all visitors to the State of Qatar during the Cup period.

  1. Intellectual Property Rights

In any major sporting event, the financial investment of sponsors is crucial to the success of the event and forms the basis of licensing and marketing agreements, which generate revenue to support the development of the sport.

As such, the Law seeks to regulate FIFA's rights related to the competition.

FIFA's intellectual property rights include:

  • The FIFA name, logo, and anthem.
  • The official categories of Activities (events and official matches organized in the Tournament) and their designations; that is, the vocabulary used in football or related in some way to football.
  • Activity logos that use compound or non-compound vocabulary related to a football-related message and that are registered as FIFA trademarks and whose protection falls within the scope of the laws that regulate the protection of works and trademarks in the territory of the State.
  • Mascots of sports tournaments, logos, billboards, identification codes, designs, and logos for Activities, trophies, and medals developed by FIFA for official use in activities for which FIFA has exclusive rights.
  • Artistic, musical, literary, and other intellectual works and innovations related to similar rights.
  • Designations and other intellectual innovations developed by FIFA for activities to which FIFA has exclusive rights.
  • Any marketing and advertising rights owned by FIFA.

It is prohibited to use, register, produce, reproduce, imitate, or modify any of FIFA's intellectual property rights, including the import, export, sale, resale, offer for sale, distribution of products or offer of intellectual property rights, unless previously authorized to do so by FIFA.

If FIFA becomes aware of any possible infringement of its intellectual property rights, it may notify the competent authorities so that they can take measures to ensure the protection of its intellectual property rights.

Hotels or tour service providers may not offer tickets with their packages without FIFA's approval. Violation of these provisions carries fines of up to QAR 500,000 (around 137.324,90 USD) or imprisonment for up to one year.

The issue and sale of tickets is strictly an exclusive right granted to FIFA. Pursuant to that right, the Law prohibits the issuance, sale, resale, redistribution, and exchange of tickets without the authorization of FIFA. In addition, FIFA, which holds exclusive rights in relation to tickets, is also exempt from the prior approval required to process the personal data of citizens and residents of the State of Qatar who purchase the tickets.

To further support the financial investment made by the sponsors of the Cup and also in line with the commitments made by Qatar in the Government Guarantees, the Law creates a "Commercial Restriction Area" which is the area adjacent to the Stadium or any of the events. The location is determined by FIFA with a radius not exceeding 2 kilometers, including the above airspace, and calculated from the center of the stadium or the location of the events. The exercise of any commercial or another type of activity on the day of the match and the day before in said area is prohibited. Existing companies within its radius have been provided with an exception to allow them to continue their operations in accordance with the specific rules and instructions issued by FIFA.

MISCELLANEOUS

Considering the above law, our advice to all those who are not official sponsors of the 2022 World Cup is as follows:

  • Do not use the words "FIFA" or "World Cup 2022" (regardless of the order in which the words are used), their logos, or other vocabulary associated with the Tournament (for example, Qatar 2022, World Cup, etc.), or slogans associated with the World Cup (e.g., “Expect Amazing”).
  • Do not use images that are protected as trademarks, such as the World Cup 2022 logo, its mascot, or the World Cup trophy.
  • Do not use without authorization the image of players or teams, because they also have their image duly protected; however, the (proper) use of the flags of nations participating in the World Cup is not prohibited.
  • Generic sports images, including football, should not be considered illegal as long as they do not suggest an official association with the World Cup.

However, this information is not exhaustive and should not be relied upon without the advice of a qualified legal expert.

SET UP OF COMPANIES

The Law grants FIFA and other specific entities responsible for carrying out aspects of the Cup the right to establish a presence in the State of Qatar under an applicable regime with 100% foreign capital. While this is consistent with existing law, the exemption granted is limited to activities related to the World Cup and the presence of such companies expires within ninety (90) days after the end of the Cup Period unless those companies seek to change their status. The enabling Law also provides a simple process of accelerated liquidation for these cases.

 

Maria Cremaschi

Senior Business Lawyer
United Advocates & Legal Consultants

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