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Image rights and international footballers: the curious case of Mohamed Salah and the Egypt Football Association

Egypt Football
Tuesday, 09 April 2019 By Jake Cohen

In April 2018, a very public dispute began to play out across traditional and social media over the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) using, without authorisation, the image of Liverpool star and Egyptian international, Mohamed Salah.

This dispute was unique in that public statements were made by Mr Salah, his legal representatives, EFA officials, and uninvolved, but nevertheless influential parties (i.e. notable Egyptian politicians and businesspeople) while the dispute was ongoing.

The public nature of the dispute coupled with Mr Salah’s extraordinary star power has shined a light on an important legal matter – namely, the use of international players’ image rights by their respective national associations.

Now that the dust has settled, this article dissects the dispute and extrapolates some key learning points. Specifically, it will:

  • Provide an overview of the use of international footballers’ image rights by their respective national associations.

  • Discuss the various issues at play in the dispute between Mohamed Salah and the EFA.

  • Provide some best practices to consider for both footballers and national associations who are engaged in central contracts where there is an image rights component.

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Written by

Jake Cohen

Jake Cohen

Jake is a sports lawyer at Mackrell.Solicitors and works on both sides of the pond as a qualified attorney in the United States and a Registered Foreign Lawyer in England and Wales. Jake advises athletes, coaches, sporting directors, agencies, intermediaries, brands and clubs on a range of contentious and non-contentious issues within sport.

Contentious matters include successfully acting for clients before The FA, FIFA, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport on issues relating to overdue payables, training compensation, solidarity contribution, employment disputes, and disputes between players and intermediaries. Jake has also acted on some of the highest-profile discrimination matters in sport within both the UK and US.

Non-contentious matters include advising clients on regulatory issues, domestic and international transfers, image rights issues, employment issues, sponsorship and endorsement deals, complex cross-border corporate matters, and academy and youth football matters.

Jake strongly believes that costs should not be a barrier to information, knowledge, education and legal advice. As such, he dedicates time towards acting for young men’s, women’s and youth footballers in a pro bono capacity on a range of issues, from scholarship agreements and their first professional contracts to representation contracts with intermediaries and international disputes before FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Committee. Additionally, he has been a member of the American Bar Association’s Military Pro Bono Project since first qualifying as a lawyer and provides pro bono legal clinics at Wembley Stadium for students enrolled at UCFB.

Jake has also written about legal, economic, and financial issues in sport for the Wall Street Journal, ESPN, The Guardian, The Independent and other publications. He has been cited as an authority by media outlets all over the world.

Jake is fluent in English and American Sign Language and is proficient in Spanish. He frequently collaborates with colleagues from a variety of different countries, jurisdictions and backgrounds.

At one time, he was a serviceable fly-half.

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