Bafana stars in legal froth over images

2011-12-10 20:01

Top Bafana Bafana players Steven Pienaar, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Katlego Mphela have taken legal action against international conglomerate SABMiller over image rights.

According to a highly placed source close to the Bafana trio who spoke on condition of anonymity, the players are claiming more than R2 million for the usage of their images on billboards by the global brewing giant.

Mphela and Tshabalala’s business managers Glyn Binkin and Jazzman Mahlakgane refused to comment, instead referring the matter to their legal representative, David Becker.

The lawyer confirmed that steps had been taken to force the company to compensate the players, saying it was about getting these stars a fair opportunity to earn remuneration for the usage of their images.

Becker said cricket and rugby players were paid for their image rights, adding it was about time soccer players also earned their dues.

“It is only in this country where soccer players get nothing for their image rights and we are saying it is not fair. You cannot use the players’ image and associate it with the brand, and still not give them something. This is about earning a fair return for the players for usage of their images. That’s all we are asking for,” argued Becker.

He said the amount they were demanding was based on what the players would get if they did a sponsorship deal with SAB.

“The players have been exploited for far too long and the only reason they use their images is because they have value.?

“There has to be a change in the mentality of how these things are done.”

Becker added that it was wrong to assume that because the beer giant could use the players’ images willy-nilly because it had a contract with Safa.

“I sympathise with SAB because they have a contract with Safa but Safa did not acquire the rights from the players. This makes it illegal to use their images without their permission nor compensation.

“This has been going on for the past three years without any arrangements with the players. Do you think that’s fair?”

“That has to change and the only way is for us to take legal action. We are left with no option but to take this route because they (SAB) have not responded to our demands since we sent them a letter three months ago.”

The SAB acknowledged receipt of a written claim from the three players but not the summons.

SAB head of media and communications Robyn Chalmers said: “The South African Breweries can confirm that it has received a written claim from three players that represent and play in the national football team. We have not received a summons in this matter, and should a summons starting legal action be received, it will be dealt with accordingly.

“SAB has engaged with Safa on the matter as we have a valid sponsorship agreement in place, which deals with rights granted to SAB by Safa. And we have acted in accordance with that agreement. Due to the confidential nature of the agreement we are not able to disclose the contents of the agreement.”

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