Off-the-pitch showdown

Players’ unions are suing betting operators for using images of star footballers without their consent. An upcoming court case could change how the betting industry takes advantage of famous players in marketing campaigns.

By Steve Menary

Betting companies face a backlash over using images of some of the world’s top players with a landmark case due to be decided in a Danish court next month that could prompt a wave of similar actions.

A group of 23 Danish athletes, including current and past Danish footballers Christian Eriksen, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Pernille Harder, Peter Schmeichel and his son Kasper are suing British betting giant Bet365 for a total of 4.8 million kroner for violating their image rights.

Manchester United star Eriksen is suing for the largest amount with a claim of 1,450,000 Danish kroner, roughy 196 000 euro, followed by Kasper Schmeichel (500,000 kroner), his father Peter and Pernille Harder (both 350,000).

The action also includes badminton and handball players with each athlete being represented by their respective union. The footballers are being represented by the Danish footballers’ union, Spillerforeningen, whose director Michael Sahl Hansen was involved in a similar case in handball before joining the football union.

Sahl Hansen explains: “The difference is the use of images for editorial or commercial use. All the newspapers use the images and that’s fine but a betting company cannot be for editorial use. They are doing it to promote their bets.

“We wrote to [Bet365] and they did not agree and said we are using them for editorial use. We said ‘no ...

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