FIFA backs off on names: ASA

2010-06-25 22:12
Cape Town - 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.

The ASA said in a ruling published on its website on Friday 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, the ASA said, had said that 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 which dealt with the relevant names.

Ads withdrawn

The attorneys had said the advertisements in question had been withdrawn and would not be used again.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 matter.

"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 Soccer World Cup to promote their ideology-driven efforts to change the names of Bloemfontein and Pretoria," he said.

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