The plaintiff in this case was injured while playing in a soccer league operated by the Ontario Soccer Association (“OSA”). The plaintiff alleged that, as financial sponsors of the OSA, the defendants had a duty to inquire into and ensure that both the OSA and soccer field owner had sufficient insurance to cover health care and rehabilitation expenses in the event of an accident.
The financial sponsors brought a motion to dismiss the claim on the basis that, as mere financial sponsors, they owed no duty of care to the plaintiff. The motions judge agreed with the financial sponsors reasoning that they had only purchased the right to display their logos and names on the OSA website and at soccer fields and concluding that this is no different than purchasing advertising in other forms of media. This decision is consistent with previous case law confirming that financial sponsorship of an activity does not create a sufficiently close relationship between the sponsor and participants to establish a duty of care. However, the motions judge noted that financial sponsorship can be distinguished from more direct forms of involvement in the activity, such as where a party is implicated in the actual organization or execution of the activity. In such cases, it would be best to implement measures to both reduce the risk and consequences of liability for injuries sustained by participants, for example; by having participants sign a waiver and ensuring appropriate insurance coverage.