Two Dutch women working for Netherlands beer company Bavaria were arrested for promoting a beer that is not an official World Cup sponsor during the World Cup Netherlands-Denmark match in South Africa on Monday. The women were part of a group of about 30 models wearing orange dresses, the so-called “Dutch Dress”, which are also sold as part of a gift pack by the Dutch beer brand (you can see many photos on the Bavaria flickr page).
All the women were ejected from the stadium during the match on Monday. The two Dutch women, who were considered the “leaders” of the campaign, were arrested early Wednesday morning and charged with merchandising offenses. They were released on a 10,000 Rand (around 1000 Euro) bail on Wednesday afternoon; and their case will be heard on 22 June. According to several news reports, they risk a six-month prison sentence for violating a law that prohibits unauthorised marketing activities in or near the World Cup stadiums.
The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Verhagen, commented on the case [nl] on his Twitter feed in reply to questions by Dutch Twitter users:
NL ambassade heeft Z-A om opheldering gevraagd, celstraf vanwege het dragen van oranje jurkjes is onzinnig @willemboele
He also suggested that FIFA battle it out in court [nl]:
Als FIFA een probleem heeft met oranje jurkjes kunnen ze dat juridisch uitvechten met het bedrijf, arrestatie is buiten proportie @edwinv73
Twitter user @edwinv73 replied [nl]:
@MaximeVerhagen het is wel goed voor de economie. Bavaria gaat wel nu wereld veroveren. Succes met het vrij krijgen
Some Twitter users, such as @SportKnowhowXL, ridiculed [nl] the whole situation:
Op verzoek van hoofdsponsor Hyundai heeft de #fifa besloten dat de Japanse ster Keisuke Honda niet meer aan het #wk2010 mag meedoen #bavaria
A special Twitter account has been set up to support the women and to post the latest news about their case: @freethebabes [nl].
Hi, after reading about this ridiculous situation I was motivated to contact Fifa on their website. Following is the text of my email to them:
I want to ‘congratulate’ the Fifa genius whose over-reaction to the sight of 30 young women wearing orange dresses at a Holland match and subsequent arrest of the 2 organisers has not only caused anger among ordinary football fans worldwide, but has done infinitely more to raise the profile of the company who provided the dresses than the stunt itself could ever have achieved by itself. Ironically the company’s logo was not visible on camera and I had to go to their Flickr page to get a closer look at the offending clothing. I found and was interested enough to study the logo – which is on the reverse of the dress! Thanks to your overreaction the Bavaria beer company is now receiving unprecedented worldwide interest – and far from discouraging a repeat of this type of behaviour your actions have shown that it pays huge dividends. Well done and look forward to plenty more of the same in future!
The saddest part of this ridiculous incident is the fact that these women got arrested for NOT promoting a tasteless low-quality American beer: Budweiser. That beer is a joke in the States, I can’t imagine what the world thinks of it. I am aware of Bavaria beer company, they make great beer and I’ll continue to purchase it over Budweiser. After this crap, I’m going to recommend Bavaria to all my friends and family. Good job FIFA!