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What is the regulatory governance structure in professional sport in your jurisdiction?
According to Egyptian Sports Law No. 71 of 2017 (the Sports Law), each sports body under the supervision of the Ministry of Youth and Sports has the authority to draft and enact its own statutes that govern and regulate it, provided that its general assembly approves the statutes and its members have no criminal record.
Protection from liability
To what extent are participants protected from liability for their on-field actions under civil and criminal law?
Although there are no explicit provisions in Egyptian law concerning the liability of participants for their on-field actions, the Sports Law stipulates certain sanctions, including fines and imprisonment for certain on-field actions, regardless of the person’s occupation. These include the following:
- A person shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of at least one year and a fine of between 1,000 Egyptian pounds and 3,000 Egyptian pounds, or by either one of these penalties, for cursing, defaming, insulting, or shouting or making obscene gestures at a natural or legal person, or inciting hatred or racial discrimination by any means during the sport activity.
- Disrupting sports activity or influencing the outcome in favour of one party against another shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of no less than one year and a fine of between 50,000 Egyptian pounds and 100,000 Egyptian pounds.
What is the regulatory framework for doping matters in your jurisdiction? Is there also potential secondary liability for doping offences under civil or criminal law?
The Egyptian National Anti-Doping Organisation is the sole entity in Egypt that is technically and legally responsible for combating doping, raising awareness against it and carrying out the related testing. The organisation is an independent sports entity affiliated to and a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). It is empowered by the International Convention Against Doping in Sports, which was signed by Egypt in 2007; is one of the signatories to the International Anti-Doping Code and abides by the International Code of 2015; and must abide by the international standards and best practices issued by WADA.
What financial controls exist for participant organisations within professional sport?
While the Sports Law regulates investment in sports, it does not address the financial controls for participant organisations within professional sports. Accordingly, the relevant corporate and commercial laws apply. In practice, national federations can hold renewal of the clubs’ professional licences pending the payment of existing debts or financial obligations.
Who has jurisdiction over the resolution of professional sport disputes in your jurisdiction, and how is this determined?
Jurisdiction over the resolution of professional sport disputes in Egypt is determined by the Sports Law and by the regulations of the international federations governing the sports. According to the regulations of the international federations, the national federations are required to establish specific systems for the resolution of professional disputes related to the respective federation. Accordingly, such regulations are followed and national federations have their own dispute resolution systems that have jurisdiction over disputes arising out of or in connection with their respective sport or disciplines.
Moreover, articles 66 to 70 of the Sports Law regulate the establishment of a sports dispute resolution centre (the Centre) under the auspices of the Egyptian Olympic Committee. According to article 66 of the Sports Law, the Centre has jurisdiction on cases relating to sports bodies, legal entities and persons that are regulated under the Sports Law. The dispute resolution mechanisms to be applied by the Centre are mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
The original decision to establish the Centre in accordance with the Sports Law was taken during an emergency meeting held by the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Olympic Committee on 26 July 2017. According to this decision, the Centre was established and its board was appointed for a period of four years.
According to article 67 of the Sports Law, the Centre has jurisdiction if the parties choose to refer their disputes to it by including it in a clause in their contract or agreeing to its jurisdiction in a submission clause, and if the Centre’s jurisdiction is provided in a sports body’s statutes or sports regulations. The Centre has jurisdiction over disputes relating to the application of the Sports Law, and statutes and regulations of the Egyptian Olympic Committee, the Egyptian Parliament Committee, sports clubs, and federations, as well as the general assemblies related to such federations. The Centre also has jurisdiction over disputes relating to the interpretation and enforcement of sports contracts, such as broadcasting contracts; sponsorship agreements; intellectual property agreements; advertising agreements; photo licensing agreements; employment contracts involving clubs, trainers, athletes, agents and intermediaries; contracts involving agents organising sports events; and other sports-related disputes.
In an article published by AlMasry AlYoum, a reputable Egyptian newspaper, it stated that the Egyptian Ministry of Sports is considering proposing amendments to different articles of the Sports Law, including articles 66 to 70. However, a draft of the proposed amendments has not yet been published.
How are decisions of domestic professional sports regulatory bodies enforced?
Decisions of domestic professional bodies are enforced through the relevant internal committees within the sports bodies, whether they are administrative or sportive. The decisions may be appealed before the Centre if it has jurisdiction and after exhausting the internal appeal process. In such event, an arbitral award is issued and may be enforced through the relevant internal committees or the local courts in accordance with the Egyptian Arbitration Law. However, this remains to be tested, given that the Sports Law has only been issued recently.
Can the decisions of professional sports regulatory bodies be challenged or enforced in the national courts?
Before the issuance of the Sports Law, it was possible to challenge or enforce decisions of professional sports regulatory bodies before the Egyptian Administrative Courts (eg, decisions relating to elections of board members, disciplinary decisions or significant suspensions). The Sports Law coming into effect means that the Centre should replace the local courts and the intervention of local courts should be limited. Again, however, this remains to be tested.
Sponsorship and image rights
Concept of image rights
Is the concept of an individual’s image right legally recognised in your jurisdiction?
Law No. 82 of 2002 on the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights regulates image rights and stipulates in article 178 that an individual’s image rights cannot be used without his or her permission, unless agreed otherwise.
Commercialisation and protection
What are the key legal considerations for the commercialisation and protection of individuals’ image rights?
The Civil Code’s provisions (article 221) apply if the image is not registered - namely the obligation to compensate on lost profits and incurred losses. If the image is registered as intellectual property or a trademark, then the Criminal Code applies, as this is considered a form of theft.
How are image rights used commercially by professional organisations within sport?
Generally, professional organisations seek the prior approval of the athlete to use his or her image rights. This can, of course, be fulfilled by virtue of a contract.
How can morality clauses be drafted, and are they enforceable?
The codes of conduct of individual sports associations are generally obligatory for athletes. However, if morality clauses are to be added then they must not infringe on the athlete’s personal freedoms and rights, or contradict public order.
Are there any restrictions on sponsorship or marketing in professional sport?
There are no explicit provisions that impose restrictions on sponsorship or marketing in professional sport. However, sponsorship or marketing practices must not be contrary to public order or public morality. In addition, the Sports Law provides that each sports body may not gamble with its money. It is also prohibited to introduce, serve and advertise alcohol in the sports body, clubs and establishments affiliated with it.
How can sports organisations protect their brand value?
Under Law No. 82 of 2002 on the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights, there are options to protect the brand value: the first option is to register in the Department of Trade Registry as a trademark, or to register as a copyright if the brand contains a design, and the second option is to register as a patent - these options will provide the protection needed to the brand value.
How can individuals protect their brands?
The protection provided in the intellectual property law does not differentiate between natural persons and legal entities. Therefore, the same legal rules will be applied.
How can sports brands and individuals prevent cybersquatting?
To prevent cybersquatting, two steps can be taken. First, a registration certificate must be obtained, whether for a trademark, copyright or patent, and second, a report against the infringer must be filed to the Computer Crime Department within the Ministry of Interior.
How can individuals and organisations protect against adverse media coverage?
To prevent adverse media coverage, two steps can be taken. First, a registration certificate must be obtained, and second, the injured person can choose to file a lawsuit against the infringer to claim for compensation.
Which broadcasting regulations are particularly relevant to professional sports?
There are currently no specific broadcasting regulations concerning professional sports. However, the Sports Law provides that sports bodies alone are entitled to all rights relating to the public’s access to the sporting event to which they are directly or indirectly connected by means of wire, wireless, radio or television, or through all digital rights and all copyrights, or parts thereof.
Restriction of illegal broadcasting
What means are available to restrict illegal broadcasting of professional sports events?
In principle, the relevant licences providing broadcasting rights must be obtained in order to broadcast professional sports events. In case of illegal broadcasting of events, a party may wish to resort to the local courts, whether through filing a lawsuit or requesting an emergency measure. Given the requirement of an immediate action in the event of illegal broadcasting, in practice, parties prefer resorting to the relevant regional or international federation solely or in parallel to resorting to local courts.
What are the key regulatory issues for venue hire and event organisation?
The Sports Law is silent with regard to venue hire and event organisation. However, it does regulate fans’ conduct, which includes the conduct of fans during organised events. The Sports Law establishes sanctions and fines relating to fans’ conduct.
The general legal framework applies to venue hire and event organisation, as well as obtaining the relevant permits from the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defence when applicable.
What protections exist against ambush marketing for events?
Ambush marketing for events violates consumer rights that are regulated and protected by the Consumer Protection Law No. 67 of 2006, as well as the intellectual property of the event’s organiser over the trademark. Law No. 82 of 2002 on the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights, article 113 states that:
Without prejudice to any more severe punishment under any other law, shall be punishable by imprisonment for a period of not less than two months and by a fine of not less than 5,000 Egyptian pounds and not more than 20,000 Egyptian pounds, or by either punishment, any person who: . . . (3) fraudulently affixes to his products a trademark belonging to a third party; (4) knowingly sells, offers for sale or distributes, or acquires for the purpose of sale, products bearing a counterfeit or imitated mark, or on which the mark was unlawfully affixed.
Ticket sale and resale
Can restrictions be imposed on ticket sale and resale?
According to the Sports Law, the sale of tickets must be consistent with the rules of the sports’ bodies’ statutes. A person who sells or resells tickets for a sport activity contrary to the statute of the concerned sports body shall be liable to imprisonment for a period of up to three months or a fine of between 5,000 Egyptian pounds and 30,000 Egyptian pounds.
Work permits and visas
What is the process for clubs to obtain work permits or visas for foreign professional athletes, and coaching and administrative staff?
Clubs must obtain an approval from the Ministry of Sports and Youth as well as the relevant sports association, in addition to security clearance for the individual, and submit these approvals to the Ministry of Manpower.
What is the position regarding work permits or visas for foreign professional athletes, and coaching and administrative staff, temporarily competing in your jurisdiction?
The regular entry visa regulations apply to foreign athletes, coaches and administrative staff who are temporarily competing in Egypt. Visas are provided on arrival for some nationalities or obtained via the relevant Egyptian Embassy. Currently, there is no requirement to obtain extra work permits to temporarily compete at events in Egypt.
What residency requirements must foreign professional athletes, and coaching and administrative staff, satisfy to remain in your jurisdiction long term or permanently?
Foreign professional athletes, coaches and administrative staff who wish to reside in Egypt must hold, inter alia, a valid employment agreement, a work permit and a residency visa issued by the relevant administrative authority.
Do the family members of foreign professional athletes, and coaching and administrative staff, legally resident in your jurisdiction have the same residency rights?
The residency visas of the family members of foreign professional athletes, and coaching and administrative staff, are tied to the athlete’s, coach’s or administrative staff’s residency visa. They fall under the spouse- or guardian-sponsored residency visa category and are subject to termination upon the expiration of the visa of the primary visa holder. Therefore, if the individual is no longer working with the club or relevant entity, they must leave with their families upon the expiry of their residency visas.
Incorporation and regulation
How are professional sporting unions incorporated and regulated?
Professional sports unions are incorporated in accordance with the Sports Law. Each sports union that organises professional contests shall establish a regulation governing its work, in line with the regulations of the relevant local laws, including the Sports Law.
Can professional sports bodies and clubs restrict union membership?
Sports bodies and clubs may not restrict union membership as that would be a direct violation of the freedom of association granted by articles 75 to 77 of the 2014 Egyptian Constitution.
However, a new member should fulfil the conditions and criteria requested by the Sports Union to become a member.
Are there any restrictions on professional sports unions taking strike action?
According to Egyptian Labour Law No. 12 of 2003, all employees have the right to strike (articles 192 to 194). Moreover, article 15 of the Egyptian Constitution states that peaceful strikes are a right regulated by law. Workers shall have the right to strike peacefully and strikes shall be declared and organised through the workers’ trade union organisations in defence of their professional, economic and social interests within the limits prescribed in this law.
If the workers of the establishment of the trade union committee intend to strike, the trade union committee, after approval by a two-thirds majority, shall notify both the employer and the competent administrative authority at least 10 days before the date of the strike with a registered letter and acknowledgment of receipt. The notification shall include the reasons for the strike and the time limit.
If the establishment does not have a trade union committee, the intention of the workers to strike shall be notified to the general union, and the latter shall, after the approval of its board of directors by the aforementioned majority, make the two above-mentioned notifications.
Workers shall not strike with a view to amending the Collective Labour Convention during the period of its validity, as well as during all stages and procedures of mediation and arbitration.
What is the legal framework for individual transfers? What restrictions can be placed on individuals moving between clubs?
Every sport has its own regulations, but, for example, when observing the statute of the Egyptian Football Association, article 3 refers to FIFA’s rules on regulating the players’ transfers, and the rules of the association.
Ending contractual obligations
Can individuals buy their way out of their contractual obligations to professional sports clubs?
A buy-out clause may be negotiated and included in the athlete’s contract. A buy-out clause has to specify the possible timing for termination and the financial consequences to buy their way out. The inclusion of a buy-out clause in the athlete’s contract is not a mandatory obligation under the law and is discretionary to the parties.
What are the key athlete welfare obligations for employers?
Every sport has its own regulations and rules. For example, the football association’s contract provides for certain obligations imposed on the player as well as on the employer, providing that:
- clubs are obliged to make insurance policies for accidents, sickness and death;
- clubs should allow players to continue their studies;
- clubs are obliged to make periodic health examinations to prevent injuries or health problems that athletes may be at risk of, including those that are due to authorised or unauthorised substances; and
- if a player becomes disabled to the extent that he or she can no longer compete, confirmed by the medical committee, he or she will be entitled to his or her financial benefits.
Other obligations can be imposed, subject to the parties’ agreement.
Are there restrictions on the employment and transfer of young athletes?
The employment and transfer of young athletes are not regulated under the Sports Law. However, the general restrictions under the Egyptian Labour Laws relating to the employment of minors are applicable. In practice, very little attention is given to such restrictions and they remain to be regulated.
Articles 64-69 of the Child Law No. 12 of 1996 state that it is prohibited to employ children under 15 except upon the approval of the Minister of Education, and an authorisation by the competent minister is required to employ children aged between 13 and 15 in seasonal work that does not harm their health or growth and does not prejudice their education.
It is prohibited to employ a child in any kind of work that, by its nature or circumstances, could jeopardise the health, safety or morals of the child, and the employer is required to insure the child against the harm of the profession during his or her period of employment. The employer must provide at the workplace all occupational health and safety precautions and train the child to observe them.
What are the key child protection rules and safeguarding considerations?
Articles 64-69 of the Child Law No. 12 of 1996 state that a child’s annual leave shall be increased by seven working days to 28 days and shall not be postponed or denied for any reason. The child may not be employed for more than six hours a day, for more than four consecutive hours or between 7pm and 7am. Working overtime is also prohibited.
The employer must inform the competent administrative authority of the names of the children and the persons assigned to monitor their work. The employer must provide separate accommodation for child workers than for adults if their working conditions require their stay, and shall hand over the child’s remuneration to child him- or herself, or to one of his or her parents.
Club and country representation
What employment relationship issues arise when athletes represent both club and country?
As a general rule, a club is obliged to release its registered players for representative teams of the country for which the player is eligible to play or has been called up by the relevant national association. Players and clubs cannot enter into an agreement to the contrary. A mandatory release is applicable for matches set out in the coordinated International Match Calendar and covers the specified training period. A release for a match that is not on the International Match Calendar is discretionary. Employment relationship issues that may arise when athletes represent both a club and a country include:
- events where an athlete refuses to play a match (mainly for the fear of injury, or in case of conflict with another match with the club or an important training session);
- events when an athlete gets injured while training or playing with the national team;
- events where an athlete announces retirement from the national team yet continues to play with the club; and
- issues relating to insurance against illness and accidents during the period of release.
Selection and eligibility
How are selection and eligibility disputes dealt with by national bodies?
In general, selection and eligibility are regulated by the relevant national sports federations and the disputes in connection thereto are governed by the internal dispute resolution bodies of the relevant federation or sports body. In practice, very few, if any, disputes are officially filed by collective players or individual players with regard to selection and eligibility. This could be attributed to the uncertainty of the system, which hinders or limits access to sports justice.
What are the key taxation issues for foreign athletes competing in your jurisdiction to be aware of?
Foreign athletes in Egypt are subject to Egyptian tax laws. Taxes are deducted from their remuneration directly by their employers. Egypt is party to several double tax treaties that should be applied on a case-by-case basis depending on the nationality of the athlete.
Update and trends
Are there any emerging trends or hot topics in your jurisdiction?
With the issuance of the Sports Law, unregulated issues are currently regulated and the Law is to be tested to discover its pros and cons. The sports market in Egypt currently has several hot topics, including:
- allegations of illegal broadcasting of the FIFA 2018 World Cup matches;
- establishment of the dispute resolution centre (the Centre) and the media release relating to possible amendments of the Sports Law with regard to the functioning of the Centre;
- the sale of a football club, which is currently creating a new football team by buying players and entering into agreements with unprecedented remuneration and transfer amounts in comparison to similar agreements in the market; and
- the illegal use of image rights of a famous Egyptian football player prior to the commencement of the Russia 2018 World Cup.