The Pretoria High Court in South Africa has today (1 October 2009) confirmed FIFA's rights in relation to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, and with its ruling against an infringement committed by Metcash Trading Africa (Pty) Limited ("Metcash"), the court also underlined the effectiveness of South Africa's anti-ambush marketing legislation (Section 15A of the Merchandise Marks Act). This pronouncement in FIFA's favour reaffirms the fact that no companies other than FIFA's Partners may associate themselves with the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
"This is a major victory for FIFA in its battle against unauthorised association with the FIFA World Cup through ambush marketing initiatives and campaigns. FIFA is as keen as anybody else to see local businesses doing well out of the FIFA World Cup, as long as companies understand the special rules surrounding the competition and respect the exclusivity of the commercial rights granted to FIFA Partners," explains Jörg Vollmüller, Head of FIFA's Commercial Legal Department. Information about these rules and an explanation of the "do's and don'ts" can be found in a public information sheet on the official website, www.fifa.com (direct link: http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/afmarketing/marketing/fifa_public_guidelines_eng_270207_1795.pdf).
Without constant vigilance and swift action to prevent such infringements, high-profile tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup would face extreme difficulty in attracting official sponsors, which in turn would damage FIFA's ability to stage its eleven other international tournaments, many of them in the women's game or at youth level, and carry out its important work in promoting the game and funding football-related social programmes.
FIFA launched proceedings against Metcash in November 2007 when Metcash refused to cease selling a lollipop product marketed under the name "2010 POPS" in its Trade Centre stores. The packaging of the product features images of footballs in the design of the official ball of a past FIFA World Cup™ tournament combined with the South African flag. FIFA claimed that this, taken together with the name of the product, took advantage of the publicity surrounding the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and constituted ambush marketing.
Further information on FIFA's Rights Protection Programme can be found on the official website, www.fifa.com (direct link: http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/marketing/news/newsid=1105906.html)