World Cup: Dutch fans accused of ambush marketing
FIFA has accused dozens of scantily-clad football fans of "ambush marketing" after yesterday's Holland v Denmark game. And ITV has sacked pundit Robbie Earle amid the fallout.
More than 30 young women were wearing the dresses, which feature no branding but are the symbol of a Bavaria Beer campaign in Holland, at yesterday's match at Soccer City.
FIFA told South African newspaper the Star that the women were "used by a large Dutch brewery as an instrument for an ambush marketing campaign".
Football's governing body is keen to protect the interests of official sponsor Budweiser, the only beer brand allowed to advertise inside the stadium.
The Star carried quotes from one of the women claiming they had been ejected from the ground for wearing their outfits and were subsequently held for several hours, though FIFA denied this was the case.
It is not the first time that Dutch fans' apparel, and Bavaria, have been caught up in an ambush marketing storm.
In 2006, at the last World Cup in Germany, more than 1000 Dutch fans were ordered to remove their Bavaria-branded lederhosen before their country's match with the Ivory Coast. Many fans watched Holland's 2-1 win in their underpants.
In a further development to the ambush marketing row this afternoon, ITV has sacked its pundit Robbie Earle after his official tickets were said to have been used "for unauthorised purposes".
ITV said it was prompted to review its ticket allocation after FIFA claimed official tickets may have been used for ambush marketing.
And the broadcaster issued a statement this afternoon, saying: "Immediate investigations indicated that a block of ITV tickets would appear to have been used for unauthorised purposes during the Holland v Denmark match.
"Further enquiries have revealed that a substantial number of tickets allocated to Robbie Earle for family and friends have been passed to a third party in breach of FIFA rules.
"As a result, Robbie Earle’s contract with ITV has been terminated with immediate effect."
It is a further blow to ITV's World Cup coverage after more than a million viewers of its HD channel missed Steven Gerrard's England goal on Saturday when live action switched to an advert.