Tag: football

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The Ugly Game

It’s difficult to figure out what to be most disgusted by in the whole Robbie Earle world cup tickets farrago:

The fact that he sold tickets he had been allocated for friends and family?

The fact that ITV is allocated thousands of free tickets anyway?  Why on earth does Robbie Earle need forty tickets for a Holland Denmark game in the first place?

The fact that when Fifa Vice President Jack Warner did the same thing in 2006 – netting himself $1million – he kept his job?

The fact that Earle’s naughtiness only came to light because he sold his tickets to forty women who used them to stage an ‘ambush marketing’ campaign for Bavaria Beer?

Fifa says these women are illegal. (Pic stolen from the Guardian)

No.  Winner in this whole unpleasant business has to go to the fact that these women were surrounded by forty stewards, ejected from the stadium, and held by Fifa for several hours in what they call a ‘facility’, for the crime of looking quite hot and wearing orange mini skirts.

Budweiser is, once again, the official beer sponsor of the World Cup.  This means Bud is the only beer on sale in and around the stadia (not quite as offensive in South Africa as it was in Germany in 2006, but still pretty offensive).  It also means that Budweiser is the only beer signage allowed anywhere near the games.

That’s why in 2006, Bavaria issued Dutch fans with orange trousers with ‘Bavaria’ written on them.  It was a cheeky bit of guerilla marketing, and Fifa decided they didn’t like it.  The Dutch fans were told they had to strip and watch the game trouserless, or go home.  This astonishing infringement of human rights became headline news, giving Bavaria infinitely more free marketing than if paying fans had just been allowed to wear what they liked to watch their national team.  When I googled ‘Budweiser World Cup’ later that year, the first page of hits were all newspaper articles and blogs criticising Fifa’s bully boy tactics on behalf of Budweiser.  The official Bud site was way down the page.

Fair enough, A-B Inbev forked out a lot of money and in return deserve not to have any other beer advertised in the stadia.  But your right to exclusive marketing surely does not extend to telling private individuals what they are and are not allowed to wear.

But this week saw an unrepentant Fifa and Budweiser taking this abuse to even higher levels.  Orange is the Dutch national colour.  It’s quite reasonable to expect fans of the national team to wear it.  Unlike the trousers last year, this time there was no branding, no mention of the beer at all, anywhere on the garments in question.  And yet these girls were ejected from the game and held against their will for several hours afterwards.

Let’s be realistic: even though Bavaria have denied involvement, of course it was a marketing stunt: why else would forty identically dressed women turn up in one block?  But it’s a brilliant stunt: once again, Bavaria has had acres of free press coverage, and Fifa and Bud have been made to look really quite sinister and scary.

But that’s because they are.  We all know it’s a marketing stunt, but it doesn’t break any rules.  The rules prohibit competitive beer branding around the stadium.  There was no branding.  End of.

As the Bavaria spokesperson says, Fifa don’t have a trade mark on the colour orange.  This is an astonishing abuse of human rights – admittedly a trivial one in the context of South Africa’s recent history, but still deeply disturbing, because it’s all about protecting the commercial rights of a beer brand.  No brand should have the power to do something like this.  If Fifa and Bud are to remain consistent in this policy, we should expect them to eject and detain any England fan with a St George’s cross flag, T-shirt or face paint, because this is a device used extensively in marketing by Bombardier, a competitive beer brand to Budweiser.  That would be utterly absurd, outrageous and unacceptable of course.  But then so is this.

How A-B Inbev think this ugly, bullying behaviour helps enhance Budweiser’s reputation is beyond me.

So it now appears that the two women who organised the stunt were arrested and face criminal charges.  Let’s be clear here: they are guilty of getting women to wear orange dresses at a football game.  And they could face jail time for that.  So FIFA and A-B Inbev are now giving their rival billions in free publicity.  They’re making themselves look sinister to an unparalleled degree – as brands, Nestle, Halliburton, Goldman Sachs look positively cuddly next to this lot.  And something that allegedly breaks the terms of a brand licensing deal (it doesn’t, in fact) has been wilfully confused for something that breaks the criminal laws of a state.  Let’s be clear: the precedent this creates could see you arrested for wearing branded merchandise of your choice if you’re wearing it in what a corporation – not the police, not the state, but an unelected, unrepresentative private company – deems the wrong place.  I don’t know about you, but I’m scared.

My A-B Inbev boycott starts right now.

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England Ukraine update

There was a bit of debate the other day about how pubs might stream the internet-only game tomorrow.

Well tough shit to everyone who thought there was a way. According to The Publican, pubs are actually BANNED from doing so. Venal bastards Perform – the rights holders to the game – have mandated that the game cannot be screened for “any commercial purpose whatsoever” and will be checking the IP addresses of people who fork out for the game to ensure that pubs are not accessing it.
According to the greedy C***-in-chief at Perform, they looked at the possibility of streaming the game into pubs and decided it was “not viable”. So if you’re one of the people who said it could be done quite easily, Perform say you’re wrong.
No doubt rubbing wads of tenners around his scrotum while he did so, the git claimed that England fans have responded to the company’s sucking out the soul and spirit from our national game in a way that he is “encouraged” by.
If you’d like to discourage them future highway robbery, please go here and tell them how wrong they are.

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Losing the plot

So the England Ukraine World Cup qualifier this weekend is only going to be shown over the internet. And if you only decide to watch it on Saturday, it’s going to cost you £12.99 for the privilege.

Given that England have already qualified, no broadcaster wanted to pay the asking price for the rights to show it.

This must be one of the most ugly, stupid, venal, blinkered, cruel, callous, cynical, nasty, plain fucking daft decisions ever taken in sports coverage.
Apart from the obvious social exclusion here – if you’re not affluent enough to have a decent computer and broadband internet connection, tough shit – this move will cost pubs millions in lost revenue. Not everyone likes watching a big match in the pub, but many of us do. When places are rammed with fans, you get a special atmosphere that simply can’t be replicated in the home. You get a sense of community and companionship that’s all too rare these days. I’m not sure if pubs would even be permitted to try to show the game through a laptop. But it would probably be pretty rubbish even if they did. Anyone who wants to watch the game will have to do so sitting at their pc.
Given that England have already qualified, can I suggest that every England fan who cares goes to the pub when the match is on anyway, and spend your money on beer instead of with these greedy bastards?

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It’s summer, it’s raining, it can only mean one thing…

Time for Barnsley to purge the squad of anyone who looks capable fo scoring goals.

Danny Nardiello slept and ate pies through the middle of last season but woke up towards the end just in time to score the goals that kept us up in the Championship. These excellent performances mean he cannot stay at the club, and this week he duly moved to QPR. Admittedly this time Barnsley wanted him to stay and seem very upset at his last-minute change of heart, but why can we never hold on to anyone who threatens to get a double figure goal tally?