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Dutch fans watch match in their underwear

Written by: Staff
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BERLIN, June 17 (Reuters) Hundreds of Dutch fans had to watch their team's 2-1 win over the Ivory Coast in their underwear in Stuttgart after stewards at entry points to the stadium rumbled an ambush marketing ploy.

The Netherlands supporters all turned up in garish orange lederhosen displaying the name of Dutch brewery Bavaria and were ordered to remove them by stewards before being allowed to enter the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion.

They then went into the match and watched it in their underwear.

Anheuser Busch's Budweiser is the official beer for the tournament and world soccer's governing body fiercely protects its sponsors from brands which are not FIFA partners.

Markus Siegler, FIFA's director of communications, said at its daily media briefing on Saturday that the governing body was alert to the kind of ''ambush'' marketing Bavaria had attempted.

''Of course, FIFA has no right to tell an individual fan what to wear at a match, but if thousands of people all turn up wearing the same thing to market a product and to be seen on TV screens then of course we would stop it.

''I don't know exactly about what happened in Stuttgart, but it seems like an organised attempt to conduct a mass ambush publicity campaign was taking place.'' Peer Swinkels of the Dutch brewery told Reuters by telephone it was ''absolutely ridiculous'' and ''far too extreme'' to order the fans to take off their lederhosen and said the brewery had complained to FIFA.

''I understand that FIFA has sponsors but you cannot tell people to strip off their lederhosen and force them to watch a game in their underpants. That is going too far.'' Most people had hopefully been wearing orange underwear, he added, denying that the trousers were an ambush and describing them instead as a Dutch nod to German culture.

Only men had been forced to strip according to his information, he added.

REUTERS PM RN1727

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