The Netherlands: Buzz about FIFA tax exemptions for Netherlands – Belgium Bid for 2018 World Championship Football

Following the ambush marketing actions of Bavaria in South Africa during this year?s Football World Championship, and the threatening of detention for the personnel hired by Bavaria in South Africa, Netherlands journalists and politicians have taken interest in the conditions under which the Netherlands (with Belgium) would be allowed to organise the 2018 World Championship Football.

In particular the total exemption of Netherlands state and local tax (including VAT on entrance tickets and local tourist taxes) have lead to indications by tax professionals of doubt whether such offerings (included in the Bid) would be in agreement with the Netherlands legislation and within the mandates given by Constitution to the Netherlands Government. Although at first the Government maintained that all exemptions would be within the limits of the current legislation, it was later added that if required legislation may have to be amended – the Bid would be accepted by FIFA. One possibly difficult issue would remain that in case VAT has to be levied on entrance fees, the Netherlands Government has agreed to reimburse this amount to the FIFA. Such reimbursements could under EC law possibly be seen as illegal state aid, and if so would possibly have to be repaid by FIFA.

The competing countries for organising the 2018 Championship are Spain together with Portugal, Russia and the United Kingdom. Similar buzz about offered tax exemptions seems not to have arisen in these countries. Only Russia would not have to deal with the possible VAT reimbursement and illegal state aid issue, since this is the only country which is not a member of the European Union.