FIFA’s reputation for strict trademark enforcement had been getting worse in the weeks leading up to the World Cup football (soccer, to Americans) tournament in Germany. But after “the lederhosen incident” on June 16, FIFA, or the F�d�ration Internationale de Football Association, entered the theater of the absurd. On that day, security officers at a stadium in Stuttgart, acting at FIFA’s behest, made more than 1,000 male fans of the Dutch soccer team remove their pants. The underwear-clad group then cheered Holland on to a 2-1 victory over the Ivory Coast.
The fans had arrived at the stadium wearing bright orange lederhosen with lion’s tails, in honor of Holland’s national color and mascot. The old-fashioned garments were a nod to Germany, the 2006 World Cup’s host and the birthplace of lederhosen. The problem: The lederhosen were also a promotional item, their chest straps emblazoned with a logo for Bavaria beer. The beer company had sold the lederhosen for �7.95 on its Web site, and packaged them inside 12-packs of beer sold at Dutch supermarkets. The fans had decided to wear them to the match. Bavaria NV, based in Lieshout, Netherlands, may be Holland’s second-largest brewer, but it’s not a World Cup sponsor. In FIFA’s eyes, that turned the lederhosen-clad horde into ambush marketers, free-riding on the World Cup’s massive advertising power.
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