Fifa backs off on municipal names

2010-06-26 08:30

Soccer body Fifa has given an undertaking not to use the names of

municipalities, such as Tshwane, when it is referring to towns, according to the

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA said in a ruling published on its website that a number of

people had complained that Fifa’s ticketing arm was calling Pretoria,

Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth by municipal names.

Pretoria falls within Tshwane, Bloemfontein in Mangaung and Port

Elizabeth is part of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro.

The complainants said this was misleading, incorrect and would

confuse international visitors.

“In addition, some complainants requested an apology from the

respondent,” the ASA said.

It said Fifa attorneys Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs had submitted that

the soccer body had been guided by official host city agreements that dealt with

the relevant names.

The attorneys had said the advertisements in question had been

withdrawn and would not be used again.

The ASA said this undertaking appeared to address the complainants’

concerns and there was no need for it to consider the merits of the


“The undertaking is therefore accepted on condition that the

advertising is not used again in future,” it said.

Given that Fifa did not have a “history” with the ASA, it was

unnecessary to consider sanctions at this point.

Civil rights group AfriForum, which said it had been one of the

complainants, welcomed the ruling.

AfriForum executive director Kallie Kriel said Fifa’s undertaking

was “a victory for the right of the South African public and international

community not to be misled”.

He said the ASA had previously ruled that it was misleading to

pretend in advertising that a municipal name was the name of a city.

“It is a pity that some metro councils are trying to exploit an

international sports event such as the Fifa 2010 World Cup to promote their

ideology-driven efforts to change the names of Bloemfontein and Pretoria,” he


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