“We are selling a product. We need someone who can rebrand American foreign policy, rebrand diplomacy.” – Colin Powell
As any online dictionary will suggest, BRANDING signals the shift from selling products to selling concepts, values, lifestyles and even ideologies. To associate a product with a concept and exhibit is clever marketing.
In January 2005, Nike launched the ‘Stand Up. Speak Up.’ campaign. Produced in response to ‘an increase in reports of racist incidents in football across Europe’, its aim is to “encourage the ‘silent majority’ of non-racist fans to speak up against racist abuse in stadiums.” As a part of the campaign, Nike sells intertwined black and white wristbands as a symbol of protesting against racism.
“maccaz – I not sure if this has been asked before, but do any of you know where I can buy these (anti-racism wristbands) on the net? I’ve looked in eBay and they are going for crazy money. I work in Belfast and these things are impossible to find.
ste_north_stand – I got 2 off eBay, they were only about £3.50 each. Just keep looking!
mag_aid – paid a fiver for mine including postage – got it the next day too. They’re not as good as the livestrong bands though.
ste_north_stand – I’ve got 2 livestrong ones for £3.50. Ain’t they the anti-bullying ones?
mag_aid – no – livestrong are the yellow ones for Lance Armstrong, the bullying ones are blue I think
ste_north_stand – I got the yellow one is that testicular cancer yeah? Then I ordered a blue one but a pink livestrong one turned up? So what’s the pink Livestrong one then?
Boroboy75 – The pink one is for the ‘Gay and proud’ foundation. Or may be for breast cancer?
maccaz – Found this when searching for the meaning of different wristbands, apparently in America, pupils wearing different armbands let other pupils know that they are willing to perform certain sexual favors. ;)
john_lillie – the black and white racism bands will be on sale from nike shops for £1.50
Boroboy75 – I ordered the black and white racism bands. But one question: why are they intertwined?”
Now, I have a couple of questions to all of those who were part of this conversation on this forum – How can you choose a colour of wristband to denote which cause you support? And more importantly, do you know where the money from the wristbands goes to?
#Random Stat – Nike’s endorsement commitments – $4 billion.
Not so long ago, a dressing room row erupted just minutes before England’s friendly against Holland over Nike’s anti-racism campaign. Senior England players watched with astonishment and anger as Wayne Rooney and physio Gary Lewin handed out the black and white wristbands in the dressing room, shortly before kick-off.
Apparently, Nike delivered a box full of its black and white wristbands to Rooney at the England team hotel without the knowledge or permission of the FA, who had already printed an anti-racism message on England’s shirts for the match against Holland.
But then, what’s the problem with wearing wristbands for the same cause?
England’s official sponsor – Lotto. Gary Neville had a deal with Diadora. David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, all contracted to Adidas.
Rooney, Ashley Cole, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jermaine Jenas, Keiron Dyer, Wes Brown, Stewart Downing and Andy Johnson – Nike – wore the bands.
“Racism” is not new to international football, but high-profile cases over the past year have given the beautiful game a black eye. How FIFA deals or does not deal with intolerance, shows that its insistence on ethical behaviour is only skin deep. To combat racism, since the 2006 FIFA World Cup, FIFA has witnessed the rituals of its ‘Say No To Racism’ campaign in every match. According to FIFA, under this campaign, it will not tolerate any form of racist behaviour, be it from the players or the fans, or the administrators.
On one hand, if a black player is verbally abused in Europe, the incident is thoroughly investigated. The accused offender(s) can expect to be pilloried in the media and punished, if found guilty. However, if an Arab player is physically abused, as in the case of Mahmud Sarsak of the Palestinian national team, what does FIFA do? Sanction Israel? Suspend Israel? Investigate Sarsak’s arrest? No. Nothing.
Now, FIFA’s ‘Say No To Racism’ campaign is supported by brands like Adidas, Orange, McDonald’s, among quite a few others. Is it mere coincidence that none of these brands have a profitable, sorry considerable, presence in Palestine? And Adidas has spent extensively on Israeli football.
Orange accounts for about 15% of total share of mentions of sponsors in FIFA’s SNTR campaign initiatives in Europe, with Adidas accounting for about 30%. One of Orange’s biggest marketing campaigns was part of UEFA Euro 2012. Adidas has been the official merchandise partner of most of the top flight European national teams for quite some time now. Quite a bleak picture, isn’t it?
On the other hand, if you happen to say anything ‘inappropriate’ about Israel’s racism, FIFA goes bananas (oops, is that politically incorrect?).
On August 15, 2012, Hungary hosted Israel in a friendly match during which the Hungarian fans chose to voice their disapproval of Israel’s warmongering and contempt for human rights. Based on a complaint that these fans chanted “anti-Semitic” remarks, FIFA reprimanded the Hungarian national team by forcing it to play its March 22 World Cup qualifying match against Romania against empty stands.
So, who lodged the complaint? – Simon Wiesenthal Centre, popularly known as one of the more notorious Zionist agencies dedicated to defending the canonical fiction that criticism of Israel (anti-zionism) equals criticism of Jews (“anti-Semitism”).
Given the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s ethically dubious nature and history of lying, did FIFA actually gauge the credibility of the complaint? What, exactly, made the fans’ protests “anti-Semitic” as opposed to “anti-Israeli”? FIFA won’t say.
In fact, it just recycles a standard press release and tries to act invisible behind its e–mail address with hopes that the questions will fade away with time.
UEFA and FIFA’s decision to host the 2012 European championships in Poland and Ukraine was heavily criticised across the global media, since both the countries have a considerably high percentage of racist football fans, or what they call ‘Ultras’. But UEFA repeatedly justified it’s faith in both the countries. As the tournament progressed and ended, UEFA ended up slapping meagre fines on the football associations of Croatia, Poland and a few other countries for racist behaviour from their fans.
So, why did it choose Poland and Ukraine in the first place? I don’t have answers, but Twitter did have #RespectDiversity as a trending hashtag well into a month after the competition had ended. And those t-shirts with ‘SAY NO TO RACISM’ in bold were sold in handsome quantity, not only in retail outlets, but also outside the stadiums.
The anti-racists wore their opinions on their sleeves and their tweets. Statement Made.
“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” – Plato
All the statutes, rules, codes and decrees incorporated by FIFA on the ‘Say No to Racism’ campaign could not stop John Terry from allegedly using racial slurs directed at a fellow professional, it could not stop Mario Balotelli from being the victim of racial abuse for more than a few times.
Forget about whether you and me agree or disagree with the “say no to racism” message. What if a player refuses to stand behind the banner? What if the captain refuses to wear the sponsored ‘RESPECT’ armband? Will he or she be sentenced to sensitivity training? And just who are these morally superior athletes anyway? What makes their code of conduct so exemplary?
The truth of the matter is this: FIFA does not have an “anti-racism” policy; it has an “anti-racism” prejudice, a prejudice that only infects the entire sport; it has a campaign that brings in revenue.
When confronting the thorny issue of racism in 1960s America, Martin Luther King, the late Civil Rights leader, asked these pertinent questions, which the guardians of our game should not avoid asking themselves:
“On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then, expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”