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FIFA introduces new regulations on Virtual Advertising

FIFA is to introduce new regulations controlling the application of virtual advertising, a technology by which publicity (or other messages) is super-imposed onto the television signal originated at football matches.

Virtual advertising is used in such a way as to give the television viewer the optical impression that a logo or slogan is physically present on the field of play or elsewhere in the stadium, when in fact it has merely been inserted electronically into the television signal.

The FIFA Executive Committee had appointed a specialist working group to study how to prevent the abuse of this new technology to the detriment of the image of the sport, but still to enable national associations and other match organisers to benefit from its potential. The group’s proposals for the best manner in which virtual advertising may be permitted were approved by the Executive Committee and will come into effect as from 1 January 2000.

In brief, they permit the application of virtual advertising

  • on the centre-circle and the penalty-areas when the teams are not on the field of play
  • on areas in the stadium already used for real advertising
  • on flat areas in the stadium which could normally be used for advertising.

    The regulations expressly forbid virtual advertising

  • on any area of the field of play when the teams are still on the field
  • on any persons (including individual or groups of spectators) at any time
  • without the express permission of all parties involved, notably the match organisers, rights-holders, host broadcasters and advertisers.

    They also oblige all parties to exchange information at all times with regard to virtual advertising, and stipulate the manner in which disciplinary measures are to be applied in the case of infringement.

    “The finalisation of these regulations has taken a long time,” said FIFA General Secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen, “but this is a reflection of the developments in this sector and the need to adapt to modern reality. At the same time, we have to follow the Laws of the Game, which are the superior authority at all times.”

    The full text of the regulations has been circulated to the national associations and the confederations. These bodies are asked to make them known urgently to the respective television partners, in order that they may take effect from the start of the new year.