IT’S the trip of a lifetime – to catch some of the best footballers in action at the world’s greatest sporting event.
But before you think of joining that irresistible contest or start packing your bags to Russia, ask yourself – are the organisers allowed to give out tickets for the 2018 World Cup?
The much anticipated competition featuring the best 32 teams is just 12 weeks away.
And the eagerness of wanting to tackle the football excitement could result in a red card for those jumping on the bandwagon.
Several companies may have committed a foul in the eyes of Fifa by offering tickets to watch matches in Russia.
The World Cup is big business.
However, following a massive corruption scandal leading to Fifa president Sepp Blatter being given the boot, the world body has been struggling to lure companies to sponsor the event. In short, every sponsorship dollar matters to Fifa.
Who are associated with Fifa?
Fifa's sponsors are divided into three - Fifa Partners, Fifa World Cup Sponsors and Regional Supporters.
- Eight slots available. Seven have been taken up by adidas, Coca-Cola, Wanda Group, Gazprom, Hyundai-Kia Motors, Qatar Airways and Visa.
Fifa World Cup Sponsors
- Six slots available. Five companies - Budweiser, Hisense, McDonald’s, Mengniu and Vivo - have been named thus far.
- Four slots for each of the five regions (Europe, North/Central America, South America, Africa/Middle East and Asia). Only two companies - Alfa Bank and Yadea - (out of 20 available) have come on-board to date.
According to the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia Media Rights Licensees list, only M-League Marketing Sdn Bhd and Astro are authorised to be associated with the World Cup in Malaysia.
Grand prize poser
However, there have been contests offering grand prizes which include flight tickets and tickets to watch World Cup matches.
Pictures of individuals posing with prizes, some accompanied by the words 'FIFA World Cup', have been published by newspapers and online portals - raising eyebrows as to whether organisers of such contests (which are not known to be Fifa partners, sponsors or regional supporters) are allowed to do so.
'Fifa reserves right to refuse entry'
Fifa, in response to an email query by the writer, said giving away or offering tickets for the World Cup is an extremely valuable marketing right that is granted exclusively to Fifa's commercial affiliates for the tournament.
"Any promotional use of tickets without Fifa’s written consent is clearly prohibited under Fifa’s “General Terms and Conditions for the Use of Tickets” and creates an undue association with the tournament, likely to mislead consumers to believe that the organiser of the promotion is legitimately associated with the tournament and/or Fifa.
"Any ticket used in such unauthorised manner will be cancelled once identified and Fifa reserves the right to refuse entry to the stadium to any holder of such tickets," the email read.
Fifa is on the lookout for companies and contest organisers who disregard their guidelines.
What are Fifa’s guidelines?
According to Fifa’s ‘General Terms and Conditions for the Use of Tickets’:
6.4: Ticket holders may not use a ticket for commercial purposes, such as for promotions or advertising activities or use as a prize or reward in a competition, sweepstake or incentive programme, unless this has been expressly authorised by Fifa in writing prior to such activity.
Its ‘Guidelines for the use of Fifa’s Official Marks’ state, among others:
Companies which are not commercial affiliates may not engage in advertising activities that might give rise to an undue commercial association with the event and/or Fifa. Fifa encourages the public to get involved in supporting/celebrating the event bearing the following in mind:
• Any generic football or country-related images used without any of Fifa’s Intellectual Property, allowing the public to support their teams without creating any unauthorised association with the event and/or Fifa.
• Any use of Fifa’s Intellectual Property without prior written authorisation from Fifa may create an unauthorised association with the event and/or Fifa.
Section E (Ticket Promotions) reads:
“Unless organised by or via Fifa or one of the Fifa Rights Holders, no ticket promotions including online auctions and promotional competitions are authorised or permitted.”
Talk about football in general
That’s pretty much the safest way for companies to get around Fifa’s regulations.
Those running contests ought to state on record that they have obtained approval from Fifa and/or its sponsors.
Don't get caught 'diving' blindly into the thick of the tournament. Your company could end up with more than just a bruised ego.
Play the right marketing game during the World Cup.