Irish newspaper the Sunday Independent reported this weekend that a certain Irish bookmaker, noted for its stunts and marketing incidents, had a €1million deal with Luis Suarez to wear a branded gum shield in Uruguay’s last sixteen tie against Colombia.
The daring marketing stunt would have seen Suarez reveal that he was wearing the green branded mouth guard as television cameras filmed the teams singing their national anthems ahead of the Uruguay match against Colombia last week. However the ambitious plan was nixed as FIFA banned Suarez following the now infamous biting incident involving Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.
The ambitious stunt – which would’ve been seen by tens of millions of people around the world so soon after his third biting incident – apparently had the go-ahead from the Liverpool player and his management agent Joel Borras Garcia.
“We reconnected with Garcia immediately after his latest World Cup biting ‘incident’ and in principle we had a deal in place whereby Suarez would reveal a branded mouth guard during the national anthems before the Uruguay vs Columbia match.”
FIFA are not in favour of such ambush marketing incidents however, following a high profile stunt at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where a group of 36 orange-clad women crashed a Netherlands and Denmark match to promote a Dutch brewer. FIFA rules strictly prohibit any advertising from non-sponsors – including the beer sold in stadiums. This summer only Budweiser was available for purchase inside and out of World Cup stadia.
The company in question previously paid up a €100,000 fine charged to former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner by UEFA for wearing branded underpants in a Euro 2012 game.
If the stunt had gone ahead, Suarez would likely have faced a stern fine on top of his worldwide football ban. If his move to Barcelona goes through he may be required to wear a gum shield while on the field so expect to see a Nike branded product in his mouth when he returns from his ban.