Friday, July 11, 2008

Verizon drops soccer deal after controversial Sepp Blatter video

I ran across this story early this morning. From N.I.T.A. Media/Ersatz Press:

LOS ANGELES, Ca. - Soccer in the United States was dealt a near-fatal blow today when Verizon dropped its plans to feature soccer games on mobile phones via its V Cast service. Verizon made its move in response to a controversial video featuring FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

Blatter had previously supported Cristiano Ronaldo's right to terminate his contract with English team Manchester United so that he could join Spanish team Real Madrid. He first addressed the issue in an interview with Sky Sports News:

If the player wants to play somewhere else, then a solution should be found because if he stays in a club where he does not feel comfortable to play then it's not good for the player and for the club.

I'm always in favour of protecting the player and if the player, he wants to leave, let him leave.

I think in football there's too much modern slavery in transferring players or buying players here and there, and putting them somewhere.

While that statement itself generated a lot of controversy, Blatter generated even more controversy when he produced a video called "Soccer Slave." In the video, Blatter donned a Manchester United uniform and a wig in imitation of Cristiano Ronaldo and, while raising handcuffed hands in the air, freestyled the following lines:

Hey, Sir Al, I scored 42 goals
So why you gonna leave me in this Manchester hell-hole?
I wanna go south to sunny Spain
I'm tired of the food and I'm tired of the rain
(You know the rain in Spain don't make you insane)
Listen, Massa Al, you've made me a slave
You're keeping me away from Ibiza raves
I'm not picking cotton for you no more
'Cause FIFA says I can walk out the door

Reaction was immediate, both within the sports community and within the tech community. With the lone exception of Shaquille O'Neal, all of the reaction was negative.

In an inpromptu video, technology expert Robert Scoble stated, "It's inappropriate for a modern-day football player to refer to himself as a slave, especially when his wealth provides him with access to high-tech mobile phones capable of streaming video. Although even amateur soccer players can use FriendFeed. Have I mentioned FriendFeed in this interview yet?"

During a radio interview, Dan Patrick stated, "At least in America, any comparison of European footballers to modern slaves is bound to engender some controversy. But video sounds like a great idea. I think I'll try that. I miss TV. I used to be on TV, you know. Hey! Don't go away!"

Blatter himself could not be reached for comment.

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