Thu, Jun 21, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Johnny Foreigner’s Euro 2012: Bendtner’s pants and a big vuvuzela

Roy the Redeemer, a 33m tall reproduction of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue made in the likeness England national soccer team manager Roy Hodgson, beckons across the English channel to France above the White Cliffs of Dover on June 7.

Photo: Reuters

Bendtner’s pants.

It’s a phrase I’ve often used while watching the English Premier League over the past few years.

Now it’s a headline.

Note to non-Brits: Pants — noun/adjective: Nonsense, rubbish, bad. From the standard British English of pants, meaning underwear.

As reported in yesterday’s edition of this newspaper, on Monday Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner was banned for one match and fined 100,000 euros (US$126,000) by UEFA bigwigs for flashing the sponsored waistband of his underpants while celebrating a goal during last Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat by Portugal.

Bendtner revealed a Paddy Power logo, an Irish-British online betting company, across his green underpants as he lifted his shirt to celebrate scoring his country’s equalizer in the Group B match.

It means that Denmark, if an appeal fails, will be without their top striker for their crucial World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic in September.

It is a ridiculous punishment and when you start comparing it with the fines UEFA has seen fit to hand out for racism, it becomes embarrassing.

For example, in June 2008 Croatia fans were found guilty of “displaying a racist banner and showing racist conduct” during a Euro 2008 quarter-final against Turkey.

The punishment?

The Croatian Football Federation was fined 12,000 euros.

Then, yesterday, Croatia were fined 80,000 euros for their fans’ racist abuse of Mario Balotelli during their group match against Italy.

So, according to UEFA, Bendtner’s crime, breaking a rule that he claimed he was unaware of, was 20,000 euros more heinous an offense than racist chanting.

Idiots.

So what of the company in question?

In retaliation, the betting firm issued a statement revealing that they would pay the fine, labeling UEFA “hysterical and deeply cynical.”

A statement posted on Twitter by the company read: “Inspired by your Twitter feedback, we have agreed to pay the barmy 100k fine that #Uefa dished out Nicklas Bendtner.”

Paddy Power later launched the hashtag “Powerpants” and revealed that they would send out 3,000 pairs of the incriminating underwear to their social media followers.

Yes, free pants.

Indeed, Paddy Power has a publicity department that rivals People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), whose stunts, usually involving semi-naked women, have regularly adorned the pages of this newspaper over the past few years.

England is a nation obsessed with the Beautiful Game and it is very successfully used as a marketing tool during major championships, but nobody does it quite as well as Paddy Power.

Their Euro 2012 blitz began with the construction of Roy the Redeemer.

As reported in British daily the Mirror, the company responded to the plight of anxious England fans, who felt their team needed some “divine intervention” to find success at Euro 2012, with the construction and unveiling of a 30m tall reproduction of the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue which overlooks Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The statue, which replaces the face of Christ with new “savior” England manager Roy Hodgson, has been constructed on the white cliffs of Dover and it is visible from the coast of France. It was hoped that the looming face of Roy the Redeemer would unsettle Les Bleus ahead of England’s opening match, a game that finished 1-1.

The dimensions of the structure replicate those of its famous Brazilian inspiration and it is kept in place by two cranes positioned behind the statue.

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