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Mikhail Prokopets: the breweries have learned to circumvent the limitations

Mikhail Prokopets, Head of Sports Law Group of the Law Firm "YUST", answers the questions on the legal details of interaction of sports industry and beer brands to the special legal project of SBC.

- What laws currently regulate the existing limitations on advertising and sale of beer in the stadiums?

- The Advertising Law fixes the limitations on beer advertising. According to the Law, such advertising shall not be placed in the institutions of physical health and sports and within 100 meters of them. The Law on circulation of alcohol products prohibits the retail sales of alcohol products at the sports objects and the adjoining area.

- Is Russian legislation, which governs this issue, different from the laws of other countries?

- Most European countries permit advertising and sales of beer in the stadiums and other sports objects. Advertising of breweries is a source of huge income for sports federations, clubs, owners and lessees of sports objects. The most indicative example of this is the long and fruitful cooperation between UEFA and Heineken brewery. The financial aspect is the main argument in the favour of the authorities’ permission to promote beer brands in sports.

The absence of beer advertising in the sports objects will obviously not resolve the problem of elevated alcohol consumption, and will not even contribute to its reduction. Also, by banning breweries from the stadiums, we lose the funds which could be used, for example, in the development of juvenile and youth sports or other social projects. Breweries, wineries and distilleries have learned to circumvent the legal limitations, for example, by placing their advertisements in the locations of sports events abroad under the condition of their broadcasting in Russia. In this case, the message of the advertisement reaches the spectators, but the Russian sport does not receive a single copeck – all funds go to the foreign advertising distributors.

- Is it possible for alcohol companies to sponsor such sports events like, for example, beach football, and to sell alcohol during them?

- Current legislation contains no prohibition for alcohol companies to sponsor sports events, but any sports sponsorship agreement has a key condition of granting to the sponsor of various rights on advertising the sponsor’s production during the sports event, placing his logo on the athletes’ uniform and around the sports object.

As said rights cannot be given to a sponsor, sponsorship of sports events by breweries is seldom practiced in Russia. Sale of alcohol at any sports event is directly prohibited and thus impossible.

- In your opinion, is beer coming back to the Russian stadiums or will there be only concessions to the organizers and sponsors of international sports events?

- My opinion is that beer advertising will be back in the stadiums as soon as football and beer lobbyists realize that they should join their efforts in this direction for everybody’s profit.

Advertising of beer and beer brands is a condition for staging a number of large sports events. It is especially important during the period of preparation for holding the FIFA World Football Championship – 2018 in Russia. Execution of FIFA’s advertising obligations to the sponsor companies, breweries among them, is one of the main conditions of granting the right to hold the Mundial to our country.

My opinion on the issue of beer sale at the stadiums is that the authorities will not dare to take such a liberal step, and never mind the positive European experience. We obviously lack the culture of public alcohol consumption, and that is why the comparison to Europe hardly proceeds in this case. Interestingly enough, Brazil had beer sales at stadiums banned until recently, but, pressured by FIFA, that country’s Congress suspended the limitations for the period of the World Cup – 2014. The same happened in Poland before Eurocup-2012.

- The Law on circulation of alcohol products forbids the retail sale of those products at sports objects and adjoining areas. What exactly are sports objects? Is it possible to sell alcohol, for example, in fitness clubs cafeteria, near skating rinks in the malls?

- According to the Law on physical culture and sports, sports objects are immovable property objects or compounds specially intended for holding physical culture and (or) sports events. Therefore, two criteria are required for classifying any object as sports object: its belonging to immovable property and its destination.

Fitness clubs are immovable property and intended for holding physical culture events, meeting therefore all necessary requirements to be classified as sports objects, which bans sale and consumption of alcohol from the fitness club and the adjoining area. And the mall skating rinks, I believe, are not immovable property, and therefore are not sports objects. A rink is only a part of the mall area equipped with special devices for making ice and maintaining the low temperature, but not an independent object. Also, the rinks are intended not for physical and health purposes but rather for recreation. In my opinion, sale of alcoholic beverages near the mall skating rinks will not infringe any legal requirements.

The source of the publication is available here.

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