Friday Janusry 16,2015 : PADDY POWER MARKETERS STIR CONTROVERSY AGAIN
GBP250,000 bid to elect former football player to FIFA presidency causes waves.
Marketers at the online bookmaking firm Paddy Power have a reputation for thinking up controversial, high profile projects to keep the firm's name in front of the public, and the latest campaign is no exception.
The bookmaker revealed Friday that it is paying former Tottenham professional footballer David Ginola (47) GBP 250,000 to present himself for election as president of the much-criticised FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) currently headed by foot-in-mouth-prone Sepp Blatter (79).
FIFA itself has frequently been the subject of bad publicity with allegations of corruption, internal dissension, greed and secrecy, something which Paddy Power is leveraging into an already considerable amount of publicity with its latest moves.
“This campaign is all about transparency and we are paying David £250,000 for the campaign and for being here today,” a spokesman for Paddy Power told Reuters at a press conference. “It is his full-time job now and, hopefully, will be for the next four months.”
This is not the first time that Ginola has exploited his former football career; he has helped promote a shampoo manufacturer.
Paddy Power's announcement was immediately seized upon by UK reporters, who asked Ginola questions designed to test his knowledge of key football administration issues….and found him wanting.
An Associated Press journalist subsequently tweeted that Ginola had been unable to answer key questions regarding changes to football rules through IFAB, third party ownership issues in football or even the composition of the current FIFA executive committee.
Critical tweets questioning the appropriateness of a bookmaking company financing a former player to stand for election as FIFA president were also posted by several high-profile personalities in UK football.
A Paddy Power-branded Youtube video supporting Ginola's bid has also become a talking point, and can be viewed here:
In it, Ginola opines that FIFA as presently lead is not fit for purpose, and goes on to voice widely held negative opinions about the lack of democracy and transparency apparent at the football governing body, a situation he wants to change.
The vid also appeals for public donations to Ginola's campaign from football fans who want to see improvements at FIFA, with a goal of GBP2.3 million suggested.
The Ginola camp is aiming to get the former football star's name on the FIFA presidential ballot by the January 29 deadline, which would appear to be a big ask, bearing in mind the requirement that nominees must have played an active role in football for at least two of the last five years, and have the support of a minimum of five national football associations around the world.
He also faces some formidable competition from other candidates intent on dethroning the canny Blatter, among them FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan and former FIFA exec Jerome Champagne.