Orange minidress girls walk free after FIFA drops charges

By Calvin Palmer

Charges against two Dutch women who organized a publicity stunt at the World Cup match between Holland and Denmark on behalf of a brewery have been dropped.

Barbara Castelein and Mirte Nieuwpoort were accused by FIFA of orchestrating an “ambush marketing” campaign that brought 36 women in orange mini-dresses to the match in Johannesburg on June 14.

Barbara Castelein (left) and Mirthe Nieuwpoort outside a court in Johannesburg. Picture courtesy of the Daily Mail.

The dresses in the Dutch national color were made by Bavaria Beer, and FIFA complained that the stunt defied its strict marketing rules that only allow its official sponsor Budweiser to advertise beer at the World Cup.

Most of the women were released but FIFA filed charges against two Dutch women and they appeared in a South African court on June 16, where they were released on bail and required to surrender their passports.

“We are happy to go home and that the situation has been resolved,” Castelein and Nieuwpoort said in a statement.

Prosecutors dropped the case after the football governing body and Dutch brewery Bavaria reached a settlement in the case, said Mthunzi Mhaga, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority.

“All parties have agreed to drop any claims and also not to make any further comments related to this matter,” FIFA and Bavaria said in a joint statement. “Bavaria NV has agreed to fully respect the integrity of FIFA’s commercial program until the end of the year 2022.”

The arrest of the two women sparked a diplomatic row with Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen condemning FIFA’s handling of the incident, saying it was “absurd” that the pair had been arrested and charged.

He called on FIFA to target the company involved rather than “ordinary citizens walking around in orange dresses.”

[Based on a report by AFP.]

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Filed under Advertising, Europe, Justice, News, World Cup 2010

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