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IAAF likely to relax marketing regulations for athletes and member federations

(Photo by Jorge Luis Alvarez Pupo/Getty Images)

The IAAF, the global governing body for athletics, is planning to give athletes and member federations greater freedoms to promote their sponsors during certain events.

A set new set of marketing principles were agreed at two IAAF Council meetings during the recent World Athletics Championships in Doha and have now been communicated to the IAAF’s 214 member federations. They will be presented to the IAAF Council for final approval in November.

The new regulations include proposals which give member federations greater flexibility and opportunity to display national sponsor logos on team kit during the World Athletics Series (WAS), a group of events that includes the World Athletics Championships and the World Indoor Championships. A statement from the IAAF indicated that national team kits will be subject to an approval process before WAS events.

The new marketing principles also appear to give athletes greater freedom to promote their personal sponsors during Diamond League meetings but stopped short of relaxing marketing rules for WAS competitions. This is thought to be consistent with the IAAF’s plans to encourage the world’s best athletes to participate more regularly in the Diamond League.

A spokesperson for the IAAF said the federation has been moving to relax its marketing rules for some time after president Sebastian Coe promised to put more money in the pockets of member federations and athletes in his 2015 election manifesto. The spokesperson said 13 countries displayed a national sponsor on their team kit during the recent World Athletics Championships in Doha after the IAAF council voted through a similar relaxation of its marketing rules in November 2018.

The full list of the new marketing guidelines include proposals to:

• Increase the number of logos, the size and the placement of them
• Give greater flexibility and opportunity in respect of Member Federations and their national sponsors’ logos appearing on kit
• Have an approvals process for all kit before use at a World Athletics Series (WAS) event
• Give greater flexibility and opportunity in respect of athletes and their personal sponsors’ logos appearing on kit at non-WAS events
• Increase the flexibility in respect of shoes, other apparel and accessories.

The changes in the IAAF’s regulations come just days after the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) relaxed its guidelines governing how athletes associate with their sponsors during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The International Olympic Committee has placed the responsibility to implement marketing guidelines in the hands of each of its national Olympic committees after a ruling by the German cartel office deemed that Rule 40 of the Olympic charter, which governs athlete marketing, went too far.

A statement from the IAAF indicated its new marketing and advertising approach has been devised in agreement with Dentsu. The Japanese agency holds the global media and marketing rights to the World Athletics Series, excluding Europe. The full list of WAS events includes the World Athletics Championships , the World Indoor Championships, IAAF World Youth Championships, IAAF World Junior Championships, IAAF World Cup, IAAF World Athletics Final, IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, IAAF World Cross Country Championships and IAAF Race Walking Cup.