Dutch women 'traumatised'

2010-06-17 21:48

Johannesburg - The two Dutch women arrested in the orange dress ambush marketing saga were "very traumatised" by the experience, their lawyer said on Thursday.

"They were very traumatised; they were treated by bullies," Kobus Lowies told Sapa.

The two, Barbara Castelein and Mirte Nieuwpoort, appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Wednesday on charges related to the SA Merchandise Marks Act.

World football body FIFA accused them of having been sent by brewer Bavaria to orchestrate an ambush marketing campaign at the World Cup match between the Netherlands and Denmark on Monday.

FIFA on Thursday referred all queries to the SA Police Force.

"The matter is now under criminal investigation, and the South African Police Service is proceeding as per the normal legislation," it said in a statement.

SA women not charged

FIFA defended its decision to charge the two, pointing out that it did not charge any of the South African women wearing the orange dresses, apparently because they were not behind the orchestration of the campaign.

"In this case, it has surfaced that at least two co-ordinators were flown in from the Netherlands to organise this ambush activity - they hired innocent local girls and devised a strategy," the FIFA media desk said.

This included training the group of local girls before the match.

Also, the two organisers' strategy included "disguising them as Danish fans (covering their orange dresses) and using a decoy group to divert the attention of FIFA and safety and security authorities to another area while the big group entered the stadium through another site, and then compelling them to lie to the police about the organisers' involvement in the activity".

"They also obtained tickets from unauthorised sources," said FIFA.

Bavaria gift packs

The two Dutch women were arrested after 36 women, all dressed in the same orange mini-skirts, were taken in for questioning by the police on Monday. The minis were handed out in Bavaria gift packs in Holland ahead of the World Cup.

The pair face charges of contravening the SA Merchandise Marks Act because Bavaria is not an official World Cup sponsor.

The Dutch newspaper, De Volkskrant, reported online on Wednesday that it was believed the two women arrested had their flight tickets and accommodation in South Africa paid for by Bavaria, while the South African women wearing the dresses only seemed to have been hired for the day.

"FIFA has filed charges against the organisers of the ambush marketing stunt pulled during the Netherlands vs Denmark match in Soccer City. No charges have been filed against the young South African women used in this illicit activity," FIFA said.

FIFA said it had warned companies before the 2010 Soccer World Cup that South Africa had legislation criminalising ambush marketing.

"FIFA wrote to a large number of companies before the tournament drawing their attention to this specific South African legislation, to avoid any unknowing infringements."

The world football body said it was "appalled" that these companies "use innocent people as a tool to conduct these unlawful activities".

"Fifa is looking into all civil remedies available and will await the outcome of the criminal case currently being run by the South African police service."

Bavaria bites back

Bavaria hit back in its own media statement, saying it would not take any responsibility for FIFA's actions.

"Bavaria will ask FIFA to immediately stop intimidating Dutch-dressed female supporters."
It said the soccer body did not contact them about the accusations.

"If FIFA has any problems with our company we'd like to ask them to contact us directly and don't take action against innocent people wearing our orange dress," said Bavaria.

The brewery described the arrests as unfortunate.

"Unfortunately, Bavaria has been drawn into the furore surrounding the arrest of the two ladies who were wearing an orange dress also worn by thousands of Dutch ladies and football supporters."

Its biggest concern at the moment was the "well-being of the two ladies" who were released on R10 000 bail each. They will appear in court again on Tuesday.

Fun for football fans

"Bavaria regrets that two Dutch ladies now have become a victim of the FIFA response to the orange Dutch dresses... There is no way FIFA can hold these ladies responsible for their attendance at the match in their Dutch dresses... Bavaria is currently doing everything in their power to assist the arrested Dutch ladies."

It had arranged "all legal assistance and housing" for the two women.
"Bavaria also keeps close contact with their families."

The brewery said its intention with the dresses had "always been to generate pleasure and enthusiasm amongst the football fans".

"This was very well understood and appreciated by the international audience in and around the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg," Bavaria said.

"The Dutch dresses don't have a big brand name logo," it added.