UEFA on Nicklas Bendtner Underwear: How to Send the Wrong Message

Hi everyone,
Today, UEFA released a statement that Danish player Nicklas Bendtner will be charged with improper conduct after he displayed the logo of betting company Paddy Power during a goal celebration.

UEFA will fine Bendtner €100.000 + 1 game ban based on the fact that he displayed Paddy Power, the betting brand on his underwear. Let me be clear. I am a marketing guy. I do believe that without sponsors in sports, there is no event, and therefore, their marks must be protected.

However, the disproportion of sanctions between racists insults in football and a non official brand shown on an underwear is way too big. Bendtner was heavily fined when at the same time, clubs with fans chanting racists slurs are fined 3-4 times less than the Dane. Porto was recently fined €20.000 for supporters racist assaults.

So the message being sent by UEFA is the following: We care more about stopping ambush marketing than tackling racism head on. Based on pure facts, that’s what it is.

Investigations are still ongoing for a banana was thrown on to the pitch during the Euro 2012 Group C match between Italy and Croatia on Thursday (14 June). A Spanish fans’ group has said some of its country’s supporters abused Balotelli in their game with Italy, while Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie told reporters he “noticed” racist chants directed at him.

What will be the outcome of the “investigation” and the fine applied? The football world will keep a strong scrutiny at UEFA’s decision. If nothing is done, then the message is loud and clear……and the consequences will be dramatic.

I often say here that football governing bodies are not doing enough against racism in football. Apart from Blatter’s moronic comment that players should shake hands to reconcile after racists insults, I do not recall an exemplary fine – and I am not talking about €20K fine and a slap on the wrist – to clubs or federations for racists chants assaults.

A couple of comments from Twitter:

@GrantWahl: I get market-driven nature of €100K Bendtner fine, but UEFA has to know it sends wrong message when it’s so much higher than racism fines.

@cmeleady: #UEFA biggest fine for racism so far is £45,000 to #Spain, but yet the fine for showing a sponsor is €100,000 and a match ban to #Bendtner

@deutscheposts: Apparently Flashing ur Sponsored underwear is a bigger crime than Racist Chanting . The world we live in.. #UEFA #bendtner

@oconnorant: Does that mean #Bendtner would of been fined less if he had a racist remark on his boxer shorts instead of a bookie??? #uefa #Euro2012

@KevHegarty23: Disgraceful that fan violence and racism are thought to be less of an offense than sponsorship issues #UEFA #Euro2012 #Bendtner #bbcfootball

Karl Lusbec

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