French soccer team Girondins de Bordeaux has parted company with its jersey sponsor, online poker and sports betting company Winamax, barely six months into the deal.
It seems Winamax and the top brass at Bordeaux had diverging ideas about the role a sponsor should play in a commercial soccer partnership. For the former, nothing was sacred, while the latter did not want to be mocked mercilessly on Twitter at every possible opportunity.
In a statement this week, Bordeaux said it had chosen to replace the French operator with its own charitable foundation, Coeur Marine et Blanc (Heart of Navy and White). Certain social media posts by Winamax “went against the spirit of the partnership,” the team explained.
The final straw may have been Winamax’s response to one of those annoying, wannabe-viral questions that pop into social media feeds. This one asked respondents to tell “a sad story in just three words.”
“Girondins de Bordeaux,” replied the operator.
To be fair to the Winamax’s social media people, no one in the world of soccer is immune from their lampoonery. That includes sacred cows like Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe.
Meanwhile, Bordeaux has hardly set French soccer alight this season. The team is currently languishing second-last in Ligue 1, with three wins in 20 matches, and boasts the worst defense in the league.
Still, there’s no need to rub it in, or to include Bordeaux’s 6-0 loss to Rennes on Sunday as part of its update from the Australian Open. That’s because the result more closely resembled the first set in a tennis match than a soccer score. Or even to congratulate the team 20 hours later for not conceding a goal in 20 hours.
Winamax was unrepentant after Bordeaux tore up the deal. If anything, the snark intensified.
We’ve been seeking a good defense for an hour, but like the Girondins, we can’t find it,” the operator quipped on Twitter.
“Maybe the sponsor wasn’t the problem…” it added, after that 6-0 battering.
Stone cold. But is the Bordeaux-Winamax deal, the most ill-fated soccer-gambling tie-up of all time?
It’s not even close.
Deal from Hell
That award goes to the four deals Russian betting outfit 1XBET signed with elite soccer clubs Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona, and Spurs in 2009.
The ink was still wet when the company was exposed for offering online cockfighting in certain jurisdictions, promoting a porn-themed casino, offering bets on kids’ sports, and, ironically, being one of the world’s biggest advertisers on piracy sites that illegally streamed EPL soccer matches.
Shortly afterwards, the UK Gambling Commission wrote to the three EPL teams to inform them they faced prosecution and multimillion-pound fines unless they ditched the deal, because 1XBET was not licensed to operate in the UK.
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