Qatar issues FIFA 2022 World Cup Enabling Law
January 30, 2022
By: Omar Qouteshat, Associate
Zarak Khan, Associate
On July 29, 2021, Law No. 10 of 2021, relating to the Measures for Hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 (“FIFA Law”), was enacted. There are ten chapters and 43 articles in the law. The FIFA Law addresses various procedural aspects of the FIFA World Cup in 2022 (the “Tournament”) and in particular, covers the governmental guarantees and allowances granted by the State of Qatar on February 22, 2010. The governmental guarantees and allowances relate to the following areas:
- Procedures related to entry and exit permits, passports, and travel.
- Work permits.
- Tax exemption.
- Safety and security.
- Bank and foreign exchange operations.
- Protection of commercial rights.
- Communications and information technology.
- Legal issues and compensation.
(collectively, the “Governmental Guarantees”)
The contractual relationship between FIFA and the State of Qatar is regulated by the Governmental Guarantees which operate to ensure that all stakeholders are protected and that the Tournament proceeds smoothly.
The FIFA Law is primarily targeted towards facilitating, among others, the activities of FIFA and its affiliated organisations, the contractors they engage, the suppliers of goods, work contractors and service providers, FIFA’s commercial partners, event broadcasters, continental confederations, national football associations, the Host Association and the Supreme Committee (“Targeted Entities”).
Pursuant to Article 2 of the FIFA Law, the provisions of the law will be applicable during the Tournament period, which is stated under the law to start 10 days prior to the opening match of Tournament and finish 5 days following the date of the last match.
While the FIFA Law largely aims to facilitate FIFA’s operations during the Tournament, it also provides certain benefits for the fans including relaxation of visa requirements as well as free emergency medical services during the course of the Tournament.
Immigration and Labour
The second chapter of the FIFA Law regulates procedures relating to entry and exit permits, passports, and travel. In order to ensure that visas are issued in an efficient manner, the FIFA Law provides that visas for individuals listed in the FIFA schedules will be issued within 5 days from the date of receiving the required documents.
To avoid procedural delays for employees associated with the Tournament, the FIFA Law provides for exemptions relating to obtaining work permits for certain employees. The FIFA Law also provides that foreign workers will not be required to provide their work permits during the Tournament. This rule applies to employees of the Targeted Entities as well. Furthermore, employees of the Target Entities will be exempted from labour laws in Qatar, namely Law No. 14 of 2004 (the “Labour Law”) and the Qatar Financial Centre Employment regulations.
FIFA and the Supreme Committee have also been allowed to appoint volunteers without obtaining work permits pursuant to Article 35 of the FIFA Law. Foreign volunteers will be given entry permits valid for one or more entries, which will expire at the conclusion of the Tournament.
The Third Chapter of the FIFA Law provides that the Target Entities are exempted from any fees and taxes. The Ministry of Finance will issue decisions, which will address these exemptions further.
The Fourth Chapter of the FIFA Law sets out the powers and authorities of the Security Committee enabling it to implement the measures required to ensure a safe and secure Tournament.
Banking and Foreign Currency
The FIFA Law in Chapter 5 sets our various banking and currency related exemptions for sale, purchase and exchange of US Dollars, Euros and Swiss Francs relating to the activities of the Target Entities. Specifically, the Chapter 5 states there shall be no restrictions on the following:
(i) sale and purchase of the Qatar’s currency and foreign currencies;
(ii) foreign currency entering and exiting the country; and
(iii) the amount of currency exchanged during the Tournament.
This rule, by a request from the Supreme Committee to Qatar Central Bank, could be applied prior to the Tournament period and it can be extended up to 90 days after the end date.
Rights of FIFA and the Targeted Entities
Chapter Six of the FIFA Law provides for the protection of FIFA rights. As per the FIFA Law, FIFA has the sole power to issue, sell, and distribute tickets. As a result, under the FIFA Law, the resale of tickets without FIFA’s permission is prohibited. Additionally, Chapter 6 addresses in particular the intellectual property rights of FIFA. Article 14 of the FIFA Law provides for a non-exhaustive list of the intellectual properties belonging to FIFA as set out below:
- The name, logo and anthem of FIFA;
- The official categories of activities and their designations; i.e. the terms used in football or related in some way to football;
- Logos of activities that use compound or non-compound terms related to a message connected to football, which are registered as trademarks of FIFA and whose protection falls within the scope of the laws regulating the protection of works and trademarks in the territory of the State;
- Sport tournament mascots, 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, and literary works, and other intellectual works and innovations related to neighbouring rights;
- Designations and other intellectual innovations developed by FIFA for activities for which FIFA has exclusive rights; and
- Any marketing and advertising rights owned by FIFA (together, the “FIFA Intellectual Property”).
The protections set out under Chapter 6 prohibit the use, registration, imitation, reproduction or modification of FIFA Intellectual Property without authorisation by FIFA.
Article 15 of the FIFA Law provides the following rights for FIFA:
- Using intellectual property rights.
- Choosing its business partners, contractors, suppliers of goods, work contractors and service providers.
- Selling and distributing its products.
- Carrying out works and providing services in the activity venues.
- Covering activities by broadcasting images and sound and in any other way or using any technology, including melodies, lyrics and other protected rights.
- Displaying the activities in public places using audio recording, video recording, or any other method.
The FIFA Law also prohibits anti-competitive practices such as:
- Any type of commercial activity, which could lead to a false belief that the products or services being marketed are issued, approved or accepted by FIFA or the Supreme Committee, including activities or participation in the sale and promotion of goods, works and services.
- Carrying out certain public activities for commercial purposes, in a way to lead to a mistaken belief that these activities are related to FIFA or the Supreme Committee, or that they have been approved by either of them.
- Using tickets for advertising purposes or for holding lotteries, competitions, games, bets and advertising procedures, or including the cost of tickets in the list of tourism, accommodation and other services, without the written consent of FIFA.
- Showing a public event, without a license from FIFA.
The Target Entities are also allowed to establish companies with 100% foreign ownership, which would otherwise require an exemption from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Under the FIFA Law, the term of such companies will expire 90 days after the end of the Tournament unless such entities are regularised in accordance with the provisions of the laws in force in Qatar, and the competent authorities shall facilitate the liquidation procedures of these companies.
Furthermore, Article 30 of the FIFA Law provides that placement of FIFA advertisements will be exempted from the provisions of Law No. 7 of 2019 regarding the protection of the Arabic language and Law No. 1 of 2021 regarding the Regulation and Control of the Placement of the Advertising.
Commercial Restriction Area
Article 24 of the FIFA Law provides that all products and services marketed by FIFA, its affiliates, business partners, suppliers, contractors and service providers may be distributed and advertised in designated areas (“Activity Venues”) and Controlled Commercial Areas. Controlled Commercial Areas are defined as an “area adjacent to the stadium or any of the Activity Venues determined by FIFA, with a diameter not exceeding 2 km, calculated from the middle of the stadium or the Activity Venues and including its airspace, in which it is prohibited to engage in some commercial and other activities, during the day of the match and the preceding day.” The FIFA Law provides that during the course of the Tournament it is prohibited to advertise or promote products in the Activity Venues and Controlled Commercial Areas in any manner other than as prescribed in the FIFA Law. Controlled Commercial Areas, being the surrounding areas to the Activity Venues, serve to protect and support the financial investment made by the sponsors by allowing them to exercise exclusive rights of sale and marketing.
The FIFA Law imposes harsh penalties on those violating its provisions. Offenses involving unauthorised sale of tickets are punishable by a fine that is proportional to the number of tickets involved in a single infraction, according to the reconciliation table attached to the FIFA Law. As a result, if a person resells more than one ticket without FIFA’s approval, the fine applied is three times the value of the tickets. The fine is five times the value of each ticket if the number of unauthorised ticket sales exceeds eleven tickets. If the employee of a legal person is held to have committed the violation on behalf of his or employer, the FIFA Law provides that the employer shall be held jointly liable for the applicable fines.
Legal entities are subject to double the fines while persons responsible for management of the violating legal entity are punishable by the same penalty provided the manager was cognisant of the violation or contributed by way of a breach of his or her duties.
The FIFA Law will prove to be instrumental towards the success of the Tournament by facilitating the fans and the organisations involved alike. Qatar hosted the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 which proved to be a major success. Qatar continues to strive towards hosting a memorable World Cup and with the experience of organising the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 and other major sporting events as well as the introduction of key legislation like the FIFA Law, we see many positive signs pointing towards success.