One of the world’s premier sporting events, the 2018 World Cup, begins on June 14, 2018. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”), the event’s governing body, owns all rights in relation to the World Cup and diligently protects its World Cup trademarks and copyrights. Broadcast stations should be careful not to infringe on these property rights.

Use of FIFA Trademarks in Marketing or Advertisements

FIFA controls the marketing rights of all official World Cup emblems, trademarks, slogans, mascots, and terminology. FIFA licenses these marks exclusively to its official affiliates and sponsors. Unlicensed use of these marks for any purpose, including their use in the sale or promotion of any products, goods or services, is unlawful and could expose a broadcaster and its clients to significant risks.

If a station and/or its clients attempt to create an association with the World Cup by suggesting that there is some relationship between them and the World Cup, the station and/or its clients could be accused of “ambush marketing.” FIFA and its official sponsors could have legal claims against the station and/or its clients for trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, and misappropriation of goodwill for infringing on official FIFA sponsorship rights.

FIFA has the exclusive right to control the marketing of the 2018 World Cup, including use of the phrases “FIFA,” “World Cup,” “FIFA World Cup,” “2018 FIFA World Cup,” and “2018 FIFA World Cup Russia,” as well as numerous other World Cup-related designations, including the official tournament emblem, the official tournament poster, and the official tournament mascot, “Zabivaka.” Unlicensed use of these trademarks for any purpose, including their use in the sale or promotion of any products, goods, or services, is unlawful. Without the permission of FIFA, the following protected words or slogans (or related logos or designs) may not be used in marketing or promotions broadcast on a station or posted on a station’s website:

  • “FIFA”
  • “MONDIALI 2018”
  • “World Cup”
  • “RUSIA 2018”
  • “FIFA World Cup”
  • “RUSSIA 2018”
  • “2018 FIFA World Cup Russia”
  • “WK 2018”
  • “COPA 2018”
  • “WM 2018”
  • “COPA MUNDIAL 2018”
  • “Zabivaka”
  • “COUPE DU MONDE 2018”
  • “Host City + year” (e.g., Moscow 2018)
  • “MUNDIAL 2018”

Stations may say or print the following phrases in a commercial or promotional context:

  • “The international soccer championship in Russia”
  • “The soccer news from Russia”
  • “The June 26th match between France and Germany”
  • “The Argentina-Brazil rivalry”
  • “The finals in Moscow”
  • “The international soccer semifinals”
  • The names of any countries represented by teams
  • The names of any of the cities where games are being played

News Reporting on World Cup Games

FIFA also holds property rights in the accounts and descriptions of the World Cup, and sells the television and radio rights for the games. FIFA can control the use of information about games that are ongoing, and for a reasonable period of time following the conclusion of each game. Once a game has concluded, stations can report the “news” of that game, such as the winner and the score. However, when reporting on World Cup events, FIFA official marks may not be used as an integral part of the layout of a webpage or on a recurring basis on a series of webpages.

FIFA and its officially licensed media outlets have the right to charge a fee for the use of game highlights. Therefore, a station needs to obtain consent from FIFA or the appropriate rightsholder before using highlights of any game in a station newscast.

Unauthorized Distribution of World Cup Tickets

FIFA and its authorized agents are the only legal sources for World Cup tickets. Tickets generally may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes unless specifically authorized by or on behalf of FIFA, which means a station cannot conduct a promotion in which tickets to the World Cup are awarded, even if the tickets were validly purchased by the station. If asked to run an advertisement that refers to a World Cup ticket promotion, a station should ask the advertiser to prove that it has secured the necessary rights to conduct the promotion.