As host of the 2019 FIS Alpine World Championships – Sweden’s largest ever winter sports event and the World’s second largest winter event after the Olympic Winter Games – Åre, a small countryside village in the sparsely populated county of Jämtland, will soon be welcoming the world’s top alpine skiers. For two weeks in February, 600 athletes from 65 nations will participate in this fantastic event, which will be covered comprehensively on TV and in newspapers throughout Sweden and around the world, and of course globally through social media.
As well as being a wonderful spectacle, an event of this magnitude does, however, throw up a broad spectrum of legal issues, and high-quality legal advice is of immense importance. DLA Piper’s global presence and experience in sporting events led to our appointment as official legal advisor to the Championships. This appointment covers many areas of legal competence, with lawyers experienced in employment, tax, real estate and intellectual property, etc. participating to meet the requirements of the framework agreement. Assignments that have already been obtained under that agreement include those relating to: media, marketing cooperation, employment contracts, hotel agreements, mobile application software agreements, sponsorship agreements, a staff manual, tax consultancy, consultation regarding contract templates, ticket sales agreements, and many others.
The world’s major sporting events continue to grow when it comes to the number of countries, participants and visitors involved, as well as the money invested and revenues generated.
Erik Selander, partner at DLA Piper in Stockholm and responsible for the partnership with the Åre management team, notes: "Over the last few years one of our goals has been to promote our sports and event capabilities. It’s a growing field and we can offer great experience and qualified counsel. Therefore, we feel like a natural partner for Åre AB 2019. Legal advice has become more and more central for successful events, especially as both the number of complex issues and parties involved are increasing."
The world’s major sporting events continue to grow when it comes to the number of countries, participants and visitors involved, as well as the money invested and revenues generated, making the arrangement of these kinds of events increasingly complex. Internationalization and cross-border cooperation pose new possibilities as well as challenges when a number of jurisdictions are affected by and involved in a particular event, resulting in more complicated legal considerations.
One of the primary issues to address when giving legal advice to those managing a major event is the establishment of governance structures, including the appointment of executive and management roles, structuring the management team and functions as well as defining management principles and decision-making. Furthermore, sponsorship issues (ie, the establishment of a definition of sponsorship for the particular event, how project sponsors should be assigned and which roles and responsibilities a sponsor should assume during each phase of the project) must be resolved at an early stage of the process. It is also important to address other questions regarding liquidity and financing at an early stage.
Issues of importance when planning a major event also include media coverage and agreements with media representatives around the world. Additionally, agreements with suppliers of, for instance, technology, water and sewerage and electricity, must be agreed or reviewed so that they meet applicable laws and regulations at the same time as fulfilling the requirements necessary to conduct the event.
Real estate and environmental issues include questions related to land access, which in some cases result in negotiations, expropriation and even litigation. It is also important to ensure that necessary building permits for the construction and renovation of the facilities have been obtained and that other mandatory requirements are fulfilled. Insurance covering the potential risks and hazards must be taken out. In some cases an assessment of the consequence of pollution must be made, and other environmental issues must always be taken into consideration.
During the short period of time that the event actually takes place and the location for the event is crammed with people, issues like accommodation for the athletes, support networks and personnel as well as food and beverage supply, and other services can be difficult issues to resolve. Rental contracts and agreements with suppliers and healthcare personnel should therefore be agreed in advance.
During the course of planning and hosting the particular event, the event manager must also have easy access to legal advice regarding a range of VAT, tax and employment issues, since many people will be involved and there will be numerous financial considerations.
It is clear that the market for legal services for major sports events is enormous and will continue to grow. Due to the complexity of the arrangements, today it is not only an advantage but more or less a necessity that a legal provider can offer a full-service concept covering all legal aspects of the event.