FIFA warns World Cup marketing 'criminals'

19:42, June 17, 2010      

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Football' s world governing body, FIFA, said on Thursday it had warned companies well in advance of the 2010 FIFA World Cup that South Africa had laws which make ambush marketing a criminal offence.

FIFA was reacting to the outcry after two Dutch women were arrested in Johannesburg on Wednesday for allegedly organizing for 36 young women to appear at a FIFA World Cup match in Johannesburg in orange miniskirts. This was seen as an attempt at promoting Bavaria beer, a rival to Budweiser, who are official FIFA sponsors.

The Dutch foreign ministry on Wednesday said the arrests were "absurd" and "ridiculous".

On Thursday FIFA said in a statement to the South African Press Association (SAPA) that it strongly disapproves of companies who employ ambush marketing tactics to promote their brands at big sporting events without having contributed to the organization of those events.

"FIFA wrote to a large number of companies before the tournament drawing their attention to this specific South African legislation, to avoid any unknowing infringements."

It also said it was "appalled" that these companies "use innocent people as a tool to conduct these unlawful activities".

FIFA' s statement said that Dutch brewery Bavaria flew in two coordinators from the Netherlands to organize the "orange dress" ambush marketing campaign.

"In this case, it has surfaced that at least two coordinators were flown in from the Netherlands to organize this ambush activity - they hired innocent local girls and devised a strategy," the FIFA statement said.

The two organizers' strategy included disguising the local girls as Danish fans (covering their orange dresses).

Another ploy was to use a decoy group "to divert the attention of FIFA and safety and security authorities to another area while the big group entered the stadium through another side, and then compelling them to lie to the police about the organizers' involvement in the activity."

In addition they obtained tickets from unauthorized sources, said FIFA.

SAPA reported that Two Dutch women, Barbara Castelein and Mirte Nieuwpoort, appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Wednesday. The face charges of contravening the South African Merchandise Marks Act.

The orange mini-skirts were handed out in Bavaria gift packs in Holland ahead of the World Cup.

FIFA said in its statement that it has filed charges against the organizers of the ambush marketing stunt.

"No charges have been filed against the young South African women used in this illicit activity," FIFA said.

"FIFA is looking into all civil remedies available and will await the outcome of the criminal case currently being run by the South African police service."

Source: Xinhua


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