Law and Football: How Russian Law-Makers Are Welcoming the World Cup

Russian authorities are now focused on the supervision of recently introduced legislation and administrative procedures to ensure higher consumer protection and safety standards for businesses involved in preparing for and staging the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Most of the new requirements place additional burdens on businesses, but some of them provide relief from generally applicable rules and formalities.

This article deals both with the tightened requirements and certain privileges for the organizers, participants and service providers involved in the staging of the first world football championship ever to be held in Russia. The focus is on the hospitality industry which seems to be among the key targets of the new Russian legal requirements.

Safety Rules

In April 2017, the Russian Government adopted new requirements for hotels to ensure that their anti-terrorism safety level is adequate.  Now all hotels in Russia must be categorised in accordance with their level of potential danger and the risk of acts of terrorism, as well as the possible scope and consequences of such acts.

The new rules provide for four safety categories of hotels, each of which is subject to specific requirements and obligations. There are also requirements common for all hotels, such as drafting a plan of safety measures, installing video surveillance and emergency lighting systems, etc. All hotels must develop safety passports and have them approved by the local offices of the National Guard and the Federal Security Service, except for category 4 hotels (lowest risk level).

Migration Requirements

In accordance with the Decree by the President of the Russian Federation No 202 of 9 May 2017, the time limit for the submission of information by hotels on guests who are foreign citizens to the territorial police offices responsible for migration control is to be reduced to one day. This requirement applies to hotels located in the cities and regions hosting the World Cup from 25 May to 25 July 2018.

The sanctions for a breach of migration control requirements are quite severe and consist of administrative fines for both legal entities (RUB 400,000 to 500,000) and their responsible officers (RUB 40,000 to 50,000). Certain actions, such as the false migration registration of a foreign citizen, may also fall under criminal liability measures.

Sanitary Requirements

Contrary to the federal measures described above, the implementation of specific sanitary and epidemiological requirements associated with the World Cup is primarily the role of regional authorities. Currently, certain regions have adopted decrees on immunising personnel involved in serving World Cup footballers and guests. For example, hotel employees in Moscow must be vaccinated against hepatitis A and Sonne dysentery (except for those already vaccinated or who have had the disease) and their previous vaccination against certain other diseases must be proved. Vaccination requirements are established to various extent in all the Russian cities hosting the championship.

Category Certificates

In accordance with Federal Law No 108-FZ On preparation for and the staging of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in the Russian Federation and on amending certain legislative acts (the World Cup Law), hotels are only allowed to provide hotel services if they have a category certificate to prove that their services comply with a particular standard.

The Government has established that hotels and other types of accommodation are to be classified within six categories, ranging from 5 stars to 1 star, plus a zero star category. At present, the requirement to obtain a category certificate is mandatory only in the cities and regions hosting the World Cup. However, as of 2019 this requirement will apply be expanded to all hotels in Russia. Providing accommodation services without having obtained a category certificate is an administrative offence, but only large hotels (50 or more guest rooms) will be penalised before 2020.

Price Regulation

By Decree No 89 of 10 February 2016, the Russian Government established maximum prices per night for accommodation in hotels that are located in the cities and regions hosting the World Cup. The prices depend on the hotel categories and apply only for the period of staging of the World Cup. The highest prices have been set for St Petersburg. For example, one night in an apartment or suite type of room in a five-star hotel in St Petersburg costs up to RUB 700,000 (approx. EUR 10,000), while the price for a similar room in Volgograd will not exceed RUB 45,000.

Sale of Tickets and Use of World Cup Symbols

The World Cup Law prohibits any sales (including re-sale, distribution, allocation, exchange or other similar activities, whether profitable or not) of tickets to World Cup games or other documents giving the right to obtain such tickets without entering into respective agreements with FIFA or its authorised agencies. Hotels that offer service packages including accommodation and access to World Cup games need to take this into consideration.

Likewise, the use of 2018 FIFA World Cup symbols, which are intellectual property and to which FIFA has exclusive rights, is allowed only upon the conclusion of a contract with FIFA or its authorised agencies. These requirements also extend to the production or import of goods and to the rendering of ervices containing FIFA World Cup symbols for commercial purposes.

Compliance with these requirements is supervised by the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) and the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor). The latter has significantly increased inspections of businesses engaged in servicing the World Cup.

On 15 March 2018, Roskomnadzor included 858 websites containing information on the sale of counterfeit products and entrance tickets to the World Cup in the Unified Register of Prohibited Information. Since then, 822 websites have voluntarily removed the illegal content, while 28 are still expected to do so before the deadline set by Roskomnadzor has passed. Access to the remaining eight websites is blocked due to their non-compliance. Roskomndazor and Rospotrebnadzor will keep monitoring activities involving counterfeit products and entrance tickets, and will take action against any unauthorised reproduction of FIFA’s trademarks in a commercial context.

Additionally, the State Duma (the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament) is now considering a bill which provides for a fast-track procedure for the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) to hold parties accountable for illegal use of the World Cup Symbols. At the present moment, FAS is obliged to issue a written order to eliminate a violation within 10 days. An infringer is not held liable if it complies with an order. The bill permits FAS to proceed with the administrative case without previous issuance of orders.

Data Localisation Requirement

Since 1 September 2015, Article 18(5) of the Federal Law No 152-FZ of 27 July 2006, as amended (the Personal Data Law), has obliged data controllers processing any personal data of Russian citizens (including recording, structuring, accumulation, storage, rectification and extraction) be carried out only on databases located in the territory of the Russian Federation.  This covers collection in any manner, including via the Internet.

This data localisation requirement means it is illegal to process the personal data of Russian citizens using non-Russian ICT Systems without involving a database installed on a Russia-based server. This cannot be surmounted even with a data subject’s written consent, and violations may result in access to webpages being blocked and to administrative fines.

As a result of the staging of the World Cup in Russia, FIFA and its authorised agencies involved in the preparation and organisation of World Cup events have been granted an exemption (Article 23.1 of the Personal Data Law).  The right to record, structure, accumulate, store, change, modify and extract the personal data of citizens of the Russian Federation without the use of databases located in the territory of the Russian Federation is granted provided that the collection of such personal data is carried out for the purposes of:

The list of the FIFA-authorised organisations is set out by the Government of the Russian Federation and includes the organisational committee ‘Russia 2018’, a number of state universities and some commercial companies. Of course, FIFA itself is also exempt from the data localisation requirement.  Given that fifa.com is the only official source of entrance tickets, Russian data localisation requirements are not really an issue for the World Cup. In fact, they may help prevent the sale of counterfeit tickets and products. Data controllers who are not mentioned in the Government’s list and who process personal data of Russian citizens in connection with staging of the World Cup should be aware they may be subject to inspection by Roskomnadzor.

Fan ID

Fan ID is a specially designated card required for access to the stadiums in order to ensure the safety of the events. It is a personal spectator’s document issued to foreign citizens, stateless persons and citizens of the Russian Federation who possess an entrance ticket to a match or a document entitling them to obtain an entrance ticket.

Fan IDs can be issued both electronically and in paper format through a specialised distribution centre. However, the spectator must present their paper-based ID along with their ticket to enter the stadium and must wear it during the game. A Fan ID can be cancelled if necessary to ensure public security or public order or if an individual is found to have a record of public order disturbance either in Russia or abroad (Article 2(28) of the World Cup Law).

In addition, a Fan ID (paper or electronic) can be used for visa-free multiple entry to and exit from the Russian Federation, provided that its holder has a ticket to a sporting event and a valid personal identification document (passport or its permissible equivalent). The simplified entry regime is applicable for the period starting at 00:00 on 4 June 2018 up to 23:59 on 15 July 2018 (local time), whereas the simplified departure regime extends to 23:59 on 25 July 2018.

As an additional bonus, a paper Fan ID allows its holder to use public transport in the cities hosting the World Cup on the days of the games and railway transport to get from one hosting city to another free of charge, subject to certain restrictions.

Simplified Radio Use Permit

Roskomnadzor has introduced a simplified authorisation procedure for the use of the radio frequency spectrum in order to promptly review the applications of the organisers and participants of the World Cup. The application for a permit can be submitted online through the applicant’s personal account on the special web-portal of the organising committee.

Time limits for examination of electromagnetic compatibility and registration of permits for the use of radio frequencies vary depending on the number of days left before the start of the event. For example, if the application was received a week before the first match or later, then one day is allocated for the examination and issuing of the permit. Permits are also issued in electronic form, and registration of radio-electronic equipment is carried out by means of special marks to be attached to the equipment.

Based on the Roscomnadzor official website, Roskomnadzor has already issued 239 permits as of 21 March 2018. It is reported that Roskomnadzor issued 106 permits only for the period from 1–16 March, the majority of which (80) were issued to HBS broadcaster and 11 to the organising committee.

Last-Minute Preparations

Since 10 April 2018, a pilot project for tax-free sales in Russia has started in Moscow, St Petersburg, and Krasnodar Region. The official representative of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce promises to introduce tax-free sales in all the cities hosting the World Cup by the opening of the event. The tax refund will constitute 10–12% of the purchase price and will be available for citizens of states outside the Eurasian Economic Union. Tax-free sales are expected to be launched all over Russia starting on 10 October 2018.

Hoping for a Proper Balance of Regulation

The simplifications of legal requirements, such as those outlined above, mostly concern the guests of the World Cup, FIFA and its associated agencies, persons and entities involved in organisation of the event and the mass media. In other areas servicing the World Cup (for example, hotels, restaurants and ticket sellers), higher requirements and stricter rules have been recently introduced in Russia Hopefully, Russian regulators and supervising authorities manage to find a proper balance of regulation in order to ensure the success of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.