Image rights refer to the right to use someone’s name, reputation, performances, promotional services or image (or any right or quasi-right associated therewith) for any commercial purpose.
By way of example – most clubs grant their sponsors the right to use the image of their players. This allows these sponsors to promote their brand through the club and its players. In principle, clubs can only grant these rights to their sponsors if also the players agreed to this.
To maintain and increase the value of the image rights, it is important to keep control over the image rights and their exploitation. More and more players are using specialised companies to manage their image rights. For players with different roles (national team, club, private) it is not always a simple task to keep track of all parties using and exploiting the image of the players. Sometimes even parties with conflicting interests can exploit the image rights of a player.
By way of example: Coca Cola is the sponsor of the Belgian national team and uses, among others, the image of Vincent Kompany in one of their campaigns. At the same time Pepsi is one of the personal sponsors of Kompany (ie outside of his role as a player at the national team or as a player of his club). It is quite clear why this could cause conflicts and issues.