Euro 2012 kicked-off less than two weeks ago and Uefa is already in the midst of probably one of its biggest controversies to date. Why? Because higher beings within its corridors of power decided to fine Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner a staggering €100,000 (and a one match ban) for flashing his branded ‘Paddy Power’ pants to millions of global viewers.
Paddy Power, who are deeming the pants ‘lucky’, have already said they will pay the fine on Bendtner’s behalf with members of the general public posting requests on the bookmaker’s website asking for their very own pair of ‘lucky pants’!
However, there is a far more serious side to the story than a pair of bright green underpants. The story is continuing to generate thousands of column inches in the media with national and international coverage across the globe with everyone asking the same question. How can Uefa fine a player such a phenomenal amount of money for showing his marketed pants yet fine several international football associations such paltry amounts for more serious allegations including acts of racism?
While Paddy Power is riding high on ‘pantsgate’ Uefa has some serious questions to answer. Unfortunately Uefa has a long history of handing out small, menial fines and match bans for much more serious offences of racism.
From a PR perspective, the tone of the media coverage suggests that the media and the public seem to think that Uefa has got it priorities wrong. Uefa appears, judging by the messages given by this fine, to value the protection of sponsors’ interests higher than protecting players and fans from racist abuse.
If Uefa and its PR advisers care for their reputations in the minds of players and fans, they should act to reverse this immediately. So far ….silence.
Just some of the lesser fines issued by Uefa
- Euro 2012 – Russian FA fined £96,000 for fan violence ahead of the game with Poland
- Euro 2012 – Croatia fined £20,000 for pitch invader, throwing missiles and lighting of flares
- Euro 2012 – Germany fined £8,000 for fans throwing missiles onto the pitch v Portugal
- Euro 2012 – Portuguese FA fined £4,000 for delaying the start of the second half v Germany
- 2012 – Porto fined £16,700 for racist incidents
- 2008 – Croatia fined £10,000 for racist incidents
- 2007 – Serbia fined £16,500 for racist incidents
- 2004 – Spain fined £45,000 for racist incidents
(Stats source: Paddy Power)