The Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) strongly supports BSI position welcoming the decision of the German Federal Cartel Office regarding the IOC Rule 40, paragraph 3 as a positive step lessening the effect of the general advertising ban for athletes during the Olympic Games. Together with BSI, we now call on for a common and coherent solution at EU level, in order to bring more legal certainty and protection to all parties involved.
The Olympic Charter Rule 40, paragraph 3 prohibits all individual advertising activities by Olympic participants during the so-called “frozen period” of the Olympic Games. The objective is to protect, among others, the contractual exclusivity rights of the IOC sponsors. With this approach, the IOC intervenes in the contractual relations between athletes and their personal commercial partners who are providing services such as marketing, sponsoring, and others, in order to generate its own revenues.
Within the framework of administrative proceedings, the German Cartel Office has investigated in the last two years if this practice was objectively justified. On 27 February 2019, it decided to discontinue the proceedings based on the commitments given by the IOC and the DOSB (Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund) to significantly relax the individual advertising ban for German Olympic athletes. This solution is binding until the 2026 Winter Olympics included.
“FESI welcomes the decision of the German Cartel Office as a positive step lessening the effect of the general advertising ban for athletes during the Olympic Games. However, we are now facing an inconsistent situation in the different European countries regarding the athletes’ commercial rights and the rights of their individual sponsors during the Olympic Games that violates the principle of non-discrimination within the European Union”, states Frank A. Dassler, FESI President. “It is simply not practical nor fair to ask the Olympic athletes to start individual negotiations with their National Olympic Committees. Therefore, we invite the European Union to bring a coherent and persuasive solution for the concerned parties prior to the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020, by evaluating the compliance of IOC Rule 40 paragraph 3 with EU legislation”, Dassler concludes.