Women in minis held by Fifa

dutchydress15062010 Dutch supporters are escorted from Soccer City by a Fifa official for contravening their branding rules. Photo: The Star

By Angelique Serrao

Thirty-six sexily dressed Dutch women were forced out of Soccer City and held in a Fifa office for several hours for wearing an outfit designed by a Dutch beer company.

The body-hugging orange mini-dress, known as the Dutchy dress, was part of a gift pack bought with Bavaria beer in Holland as part of the build-up to the World Cup.

Peer Swinkels, from Bavaria beer, told The Star last night that his colleagues in South Africa had told him that 36 Dutch women had been arrested after the match between the Netherlands and Denmark for wearing the dress.

He said there was no branding on what has been described as the first real World Cup dress, but it was well known to be part of Bavaria beer in Holland.

"It's a nice dress. Very fashionable. In my opinion, people should have the right to wear whatever they want," Swinkels said. "We launched the orange item on April 30 on the queen's birthday, which we call Queen's Day. The Dutch people are a little crazy about orange and we wear it on public holidays and events like the World Cup."

But Fifa has said the dress is part of an ambush-marketing campaign it would not allow at matches.

Dutch tourist Barbara Kastein was a part of a large group who wore the dress, but many women at the stadium wore the outfit.

"We were sitting near the front, making a lot of noise, and the cameras kept focusing on us," Kastein said. "We were singing songs and having a good time."

Kastein said a Fifa official came up to her and told her she was not allowed to wear the dress because it was from Bavaria, and the women had a choice: leave the stadium voluntarily or they would be forced to leave. She told the official she would not leave as she saw nothing wrong with wearing the dress.

"In the second half, about 40 stewards surrounded us and forced us to leave the stadium. They pushed us up the stairs, and one of the girls fell."

Outside the stadium, Kastein said, the group were taken to a Fifa office and interrogated about the dress for several hours.

"The police came and kept on asking us the same questions over and over, asking if we worked for Bavaria. They said we were ambush-marketing and it was against the law in South Africa. They said we would be arrested and would stay in jail for six months. Girls were crying. It was bad."

Kastein said 34 women were held for more than three hours before being let go. She and another woman were held for a few more hours.

"A police van took us back to our hotel and they wanted my passport. They made a copy and said they would investigate. They said they would sue me. All of this for wearing an orange dress."

The dress is worn by famous Dutch wag Sylvie van der Vaart, the wife of Real Madrid player Rafael van der Vaart.

It is not the first time the beer brand has been the centre of controversy at a World Cup. Four years ago in Germany, Dutch fans wearing Bavaria-branded orange lederhosen with a tail representing a lion were told to take the pants off at soccer matches. Many of the fans had nothing but their underwear underneath and were forced to go into matches without their pants.

"This time we put no branding on the dress," said Swinkels. "And Fifa don't have a monopoly over orange."

Fifa said no arrests had been made, but added that "several young South African women were used by a large Dutch brewery as an instrument for an ambush-marketing campaign".

They said the company had a long history of trying this marketing technique at sports events.

"The latest target had been the Dutch team itself, and the Dutch FA had already objected to the strategy employed by this brewery for ambush activities around the national team matches using the same promotional objects."

Fifa said ambush marketing was a criminal offence in South Africa and it was looking at legal remedies.

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