AFC boosts skill sets around protection of its growing commercial properties

July 24 – In a move to increase protection of its commercial rights, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has formed an Independent Working Group that will advise the AFC’s commercial and legal departments.

The group comprises Tom Liston, former managing director of Team Marketing in Zurich, Dan Harrington, a partner at sports and media specialists Level Law, and Marco Villiger, the former FIFA Deputy General Secretary and FIFA Chief Legal and Integrity Officer.

Their focus will be on protecting the value of AFC’s core commercial and broadcast rights and sends a strong message to partners that they can have confidence that the governing body will support their deals actively and forcefully. Two of the members of the working group are sports lawyers.

The protection issues are not just about the well-documented problems regarding broadcast piracy but will also see advice on various copyright infringement issues, ambush marketing around the AFC’s events, content protection and passing off. All are areas the AFC have been strengthening in order to protect their rights that have been increasing in value as their competitions fast develop.

Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the AFC President, said after the decision: “The AFC recognises the challenges that all our partners are facing in these uncertain times and that makes it especially important that the AFC protects the value and exclusivity of all our rights – both now and in the coming years.

“The Confederation remains most grateful for the loyalty and understanding of all its partners and we know that this move, involving people of such outstanding experience and quality, will show everyone how seriously we are taking our responsibilities in this area.”

In a press release, the AFC Executive Committee similarly “stressed the importance of ensuring its much-sought after properties, such as the world-class AFC Asian Cup, AFC Women’s Asian Cup, the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup as well as all the other age-group, futsal and beach soccer events, are properly guarded.”

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