Putin Hands FIFA Veto on Trade at World Cup

MOSCOW, June 7 (R-Sport) – Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law Friday measures giving FIFA powers to stop commerce in large areas of the 2018 World Cup host cities.

The so-called World Cup Law mandates that FIFA or its nominees must give written approval for any trading or advertising within two kilometers of a stadium on match day.

That area covers, for example, several Moscow districts home to tens of thousands of people and most of central Volgograd.

“On the days on which sports competitions are held, trading activity on the territory of the stadium and in other places where events are taking place, and also within a radius of two kilometers around stadiums, may take place only with the official written consent of FIFA or persons nominated by FIFA,” the text of the law published on a government website states.

A similar clause requires FIFA approval for advertising within the same radius of a stadium, or in the airspace above an arena.

The law does not specify punishments for breaking the new rules but states that any cases will be treated as breaches of Russian antitrust law.

The law also exempts FIFA from Russian tax and allows alcohol sales at matches under an exemption from Russia’s blanket ban on alcohol at sports events.

Beer brand Budweiser is a major FIFA sponsor, and the organization fought a lengthy battle with Brazilian authorities to secure beer sales at next year’s World Cup there.

Football’s world governing body earned $3.5 billion from TV rights at the last tournament in South Africa, when its aggressive protection of sponsors’ exclusive contracts sparked controversy. One incident saw a group of Dutch women tried in a World Cup-branded court on accusations of ambush marketing.

Last month, a spokeswoman for the Russian Sports Ministry said the Russia 2018 organizing committee had helped to write the World Cup Law.

The bill was drawn up “with their help,” she told R-Sport, adding: “It’s their topic.” The bill passed its first reading in November.

Russia won the right to host the World Cup in 2010, beating a bid from England and two joint bids, one from Portugal and Spain and the other from Belgium and the Netherlands.

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