To UEFA, Wrong Underwear Far Worse Than Fan Racism

Know this: UEFA is very protective of its sponsors. (Here are the Euro 2012 sponsors, soulless corporations all, and you should avoid their products for the remainder of the tournament. Except possibly Ukrsotsbank PJSC.) Paddy Power, the Irish bookmaker, is just as corporate and just as interested in getting your money. But at least they have a sense of humor about the whole "advertising" thing. They work for my attention, from the "Chav-Free Cheltenham" campaign to the 108-foot Roy Hodgson statue keeping watch over the English coast. Their latest stunt? Sponsoring Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner's underwear, displayed to the world after Bendtner scored against Portugal last week.

UEFA has fined Bendtner €100,000 Euros, and banned him from one game of World Cup qualifying. This is not because he made a mockery of the game, or anything like that. It's simply because Paddy Power is not an official UEFA sponsor. (Outside sponsor logos are expressly forbidden on players uniforms or anywhere inside the stadiums. Gotta protect the brands.)

So who wins? Certainly Paddy Power, which gets the whole Streisand Effect bump. And I'm sure Bendtner will be handsomely compensated by his sponsor. Who loses? UEFA, which looks like the dumbest group of dummies, for coming down much harder on this piece of guerilla advertising than on any number of instances of racism or violence.

How is Paddy Power responding? Mischievously and profitably, of course:

Paddy Power have come out in support of Bendtner since his punishment was announced, saying: "We are appalled with the severity of Nicklas Bendtner's fine for displaying Paddy Power on the waistband of his lucky underpants recently. This is a hysterical and deeply cynical move by UEFA dictated by pure commercialism and is a far greater penalty than recent UEFA fines for far more serious incidents. We will be contacting Mr Bendtner to offer him our full support for his appeal."

Every cloud has a silver lining, however, and Paddy Power also took the opportunity to reveal that they have slashed the odds from 12/1 to 6/1 on UEFA landing another player with a six figure fine for displaying Paddy Power lucky underpants during the remainder of Euro 2012.