Ambush marketing stunt has knickers twisted

KARL RITTER
Last updated 08:30 15/06/2012
Nicklas Bendtner
Reuters
GREAT UNVEILING: Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner unveils a sponsor's name when he pulls his pants down during a Euro 2012 game against Portugal.

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Talk about getting your knickers in a twist.

The Danish Football Association was in damage control mode after striker Nicklas Bendtner dropped his pants in a goal-scoring stunt it says breached an exclusive sponsorship deal as well as UEFA's rules against ambush marketing.

Celebrating his second goal in Denmark's 3-2 loss Wednesday against Portugal, Bendtner lifted his shirt and lowered his shorts slightly, revealing the name of an Irish betting firm across the top of his underpants.

Not only is that against UEFA rules, which bar players from wearing any sponsor advertising on their kit, it also didn't go down well with British gambling company Ladbrokes, one of the official sponsors of Denmark's national team.

"This is not something we will accept," Richardt Funch, the manager for Ladbrokes in Denmark, said.

Funch said the company immediately asked Denmark's FA, known by its Danish initials DBU, for an explanation, and got one Thursday.

"I want to keep the outcome of it between us, DBU and Nicklas," Funch said. "I think it was a blunder from Nicklas' side."

Association officials told Bendtner that what he did violated the sponsorship deal with Ladbrokes as well as UEFA's commercial rules, DBU spokesman Lars Berendt said.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Bendtner would face any action for the display, except having to switch underwear for the next Group B match against Germany.

"Nicklas Bendtner has assured us that he will pay attention to respect the regulations and contracts made by UEFA and DBU for this tournament," Berendt said.

As of Wednesday morning, UEFA had not raised any complaints over the issue, he added.

The Arsenal centre forward, who was loaned to Sunderland last season, insisted Thursday that it wasn't a publicity stunt.

"I was happy after having scored 2-2 ... so I celebrated like I normally do," Bendtner said. "But it was not a conscious thing on my part. It was simply some underwear that give a little luck. I also wore them in the first match and have worn them before.

"Of course I can see it's a bit unfortunate. But there is no agreement or anything like that. It was just for myself," he said.

Minutes after Bendtner's celebration, the Irish bookmaker sent a Twitter message with a photograph claiming that Bendtner was wearing his lucky underwear.

Germany leads Group B with six points while Denmark and Portugal both have three.

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