(Adds FIFA comment)
By Tatiana Voronova and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
MOSCOW, June 27 (Reuters) - Russia’s top bank Sberbank removed a reference to the FIFA World Cup in its advertising after getting a complaint from a company defending the rights of global soccer’s governing body, FIFA and a source with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.
On the day after Russia thrashed Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the tournament’s opening match, the bank sent a advertisement to its clients regarding a new deposit option where it referred to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, a source close to Sberbank said.
Days later, Sberbank received a notice from Russia-based AIS Agency, which protects FIFA’s interests in the country, which said use of the World Cup’s brand name had not been agreed upon with FIFA.
“In line with the FIFA Brand Protection programme for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, FIFA makes strong efforts to ensure the exclusive use of certain brand association rights, which are only granted to FIFA Commercial Affiliates,” a FIFA spokesman said in written comments to Reuters.
“We can confirm that a cease and desist letter had been sent to Sberbank .., which prompted Sberbank to eliminate unauthorized association with the tournament.”
The source said that Sberbank did not have time to discuss the possible use of the World Cup brand with FIFA given that it was eager to present the new deposit plan to its clients as soon as possible.
The source added that the advertising was later corrected to remove the reference to the tournament.
“The bank is working with FIFA representatives,” Sberbank said in comments e-mailed to Reuters. “All comments are being taken into account and the necessary work is being done.”
FIFA protects its brand and that of its sponsors and partners.
“The protection of the commercial rights is crucial for staging the event,” FIFA says in its guidelines on the use of its official marks, referring to the World Cup in Russia.
“FIFA asks that non-affiliated entities respect FIFA’s intellectual property and conduct their activities without commercially associating with the event.”
Reporting by Tatiana Voronova and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; editing by Jason Neely/Mark Heinrich