Image Rights: Salah and the Egyptian Football Association

Here are a few brief thoughts on the Salah/ Egyptian FA image rights issue that has been reported over the last week.

The issue relates to Salah’s image used by the Egyptian FA with its commercial partners. It is believed the Egyptian FA have a partnership deal with mobile network WE (among others) & Salah’s image along with the WE brand has been emblazoned on the side of an Egypt Air plane.

Salah is reported to have his own personal deal with WE competitor Vodafone Egypt. As part of the ambassador deal, Vodafone publicised a “Salah World Rate” phone tariff giving subscribers 11 free minutes for each time he scores a goal. Salah’s representative Ramy Abbas has warned the Egyptian FA about the unauthorised use of Salah’s image.

There are a number of issues for Salah, his image rights company (IRC), Liverpool (LFC), Vodafone (Voda), WE & the Egyptian FA (EFA) to consider. Salah’s IRC, will have likely

  • entered into an agreement with LFC for the club to licence his image in a club context;
  • a boot deal w Adidas; &
  • the Voda deal.

When entering into the Voda deal, Salah’s IRC would have agreed to not enter into endorsement deals with Voda competitors. Salah’s image has allegedly been used without his authorisation by EFA to endorse a Voda competitor (WE). Depending on the Voda deal with Salah’s IRC, Voda will be liaising with Salah’s IRC to prevent the unauthorised use of Salah’s image especially with a competing company.

If EFA haven’t the rights to use Salah’s image, his IRC may decide to sue. Query however which country/jurisdiction any case would be brought. The timing would be difficult with World Cup approaching.

Unless EFA agrees to remove Salah from a partnership which it appears he is individually endorsing, his IRC would unlikely allow such a situation. The EFA/Salah compromise could be for the EFA, for example, to use Salah’s image (with other squad members) and potentially pay for the privilege as part of a partnership deal with a sponsor that doesn’t conflict with Salah’s existing deals.

In the meantime, the EFA may have an issue with WE (& other EFA commercial partners) as they are likely to have agreed that they had the ability to use the images of particular players by way of association with the EFA brand. 

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