Charges dropped against 2 Dutch women in WCup case

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Charges were dropped Tuesday against two Dutch women who had faced prosecution for allegedly taking part in an ambush marketing campaign at a World Cup match.

They were among a group of more than 30 Dutch women who attended last week's Netherlands-Denmark game at Soccer City wearing orange minidresses paid for by brewing company Bavaria. They had faced charges under an act that covers ambush marketing, when a company benefits from an event without paying for advertising.

FIFA, whose sponsors have exclusive rights to in-stadium marketing, said Tuesday it had reached a settlement with Bavaria in which all parties agreed to drop any claims and also not to make any further public comments about the case.

FIFA said Bavaria has agreed to fully respect the soccer governing body's marketing policies through the year 2022.

In a statement, the two Dutch women, Barbara Castelein and Mirte Nieuwpoort, said: "We are happy to go home and that the situation has been resolved."

Bavaria had paid for the women to come to South Africa and arranged for them to go to the Netherlands' opening game against Denmark on June 15.

FIFA officials took issue with a small "Bavaria" tag on the side of the dresses, which they saw as infringing the rights of official partners and sponsors who paid millions of dollars to advertise exclusively at World Cup venues. The dresses had been available at gas stations in Holland, given away free with a pack of beer.

Ambush marketing has caused problems before for Bavaria brewery. At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the brewery gave fans orange lederhosen which drew the ire of FIFA.

Castelein and Nieuwpoort said FIFA officials and police questioned them for several hours after the incident last week, until lawyers hired by the brewery became involved.