Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Paddy's Pants Up: Bendtner's no John Carlos

Every one is having great fun with Nicklas Bendtner's flashing his sponsored underpants including outrage at the perceived disproportion of his penalty compared to UEFA's treatment of individual and national racism.  Let's be clear UEFA's record is not good - a Guardian charge list here.  But anyone with criminological, legal or penological nous would not be surprised.

You don't need to be a radical criminologist or student of white-collar crime to see that money is always going to trump racism or hate crime more generally.  And see the fearsome requirements of the lex olympica, particularly in respect of ambush marketing like Bendtner's.  Expect more stories like this.

It is disingenuous of  Paddy Power's spokesperson to claim, 'We don't believe that Nicklas should be penalised for nothing more serious than wearing his lucky underpants which in fairness was only a bit of fun.'  But we know that.  We are all media savvy.  Their offer to pay his fine will just come from the marketing budget.  And cheap at the price.

To get into trouble advertising a bookmaker - notice how many adverts for Power's rivals appear in the ad break - is pretty poor.  Bendtner's no John Carlos.

But back to the racism and the policing/prosecuting/punishing of sport.  I've some sympathy with the difficulties of national federations in controlling the actions of 'their' fans and have some concerns that opposing fans - like players on the pitch - will try to get the opposition into trouble.  So the fines on them can be seen as 'slaps on the wrist' or 'merely symbolic'.  I'd rather more was actually done about racism and other discriminations in society more widely than upping the punishment of sides or individuals.

But in the Bendtner case I do feel that the team, team management and national federation can be held to blame as they have full control of all aspects of the player's actions in such an instance.

So Bendnter's a pretty pathetic patsy for paddy power but UEFA right to hold Denmark to account for it.  Whether the Danish nation deserves the collective punishment of his suspension for their next vital World Cup qualifying match is another matter.

And don't get me started on betting as a driver of criminality in and around sport.

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