The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), European football's governing body, fined Denmark's striker Nicklas Bendtner €100,000 and suspended him for a World Cup Qualifying match for advertising the name of an Irish bookmaker (Paddy Power) on his underwear. Bendtner raised his shirt and revealed the slick advertisement after scoring a goal in Denmark's 3-2 loss to Portugal in the group stage of UEFA's premier tournament, Euro Cup. The fine was the maximum allowable for disciplinary reasons under UEFA's bylaws.
UEFA is notoriously stingy with publicity rights and advertising bans. One of the highlights from the tournament thus far for many was the Irish fans singing a popular folk ballad "The Fields of Athenry" during a 4-0 loss to Spain. Some commentators noted this was the most beautiful moment of the tournament, and helped overshadow the heinous racist incidents and fan violence that have marred the tournament, which is being held jointly in Poland and Ukraine. Yet, within 12 hours after the conclusion of the match, UEFA had pulled as much video of the incident as it could from the Internet.
For comparisons sake, UEFA only fined Croatia €80,000 for its fans' racial abuse of Italian striker Mario Balotelli during a group match. The Croatian fans were chanting monkey noises at the mercurial Italian striker of Ghanian descent. The Croatian team was also fined €25,000 for racist fan behavior during the team's group match against Ireland. Both of these fines pale in comparison to the fine levied against Bentdner, yet both seem to be a more "serious" issue (at least morally) than illicit advertising. It seems UEFA is all about protecting its rights and collecting currency rather than trying to wield its immense power to help eradicate racism in the game and better the sport of soccer.
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