Irish born Events Management researcher Barry O'Mahony is calling on music superstar Bono to direct his fan base not to attend the soccer World Cup in South Africa next year.
O'Mahony who hails from Cork and is based in the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Marketing at Victoria University in Melbourne presented a paper at the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy conference in Melbourne, outlining how research he conducted with academics from Deakin University explains FIFA's behaviour in relation to Ireland's play off against the French.
O'Mahony and his colleagues developed a statistical model of the factors that influence sports event attendance. The model explains why FIFA introduced seeding in the second qualifying round and why it incensed Irish soccer fans.
Barry says: "Event marketers are well aware that teams or individuals that possess great athletic skill have a positive influence on sports event attendance referred to as 'Star Power'.
"In the qualifying rounds the top teams were expected to easily get through to the finals. When a number, including France, looked like they might not make it, FIFA saw a large pool of revenue slipping away. The introduction of seeding was a deliberate move to boost ticket sales by giving star teams an unfair advantage."
"When Ireland was drawn against champion team France in the second round, however, they did not follow the script. Thanks to YouTube, half the world believes underdog Ireland was the better team, and FIFA has accepted they were cheated out of their place at the cup.
"But the conflict of interest in FIFA's decision-making process is why they laughed off Ireland's protest. They do not want to lose the potential revenue associated with star team France. That is why the only campaign that will move FIFA to re-examine the issue, is one that will hit them in the hip pocket.
"We need to hit them with our own star power and Bono and Sir Bob Geldof may be able to bring them back to the table.
"That is why I call on Bono to direct U2 fans around the world not to go to South Africa in 2010."
Conscious that this may adversely affect the South African economy O'Mahony maintains that the event will still be a success for the hosts. He said: "There is an attendance group known as 'True Fans' that are prepared to attend every event. They represent the bread and butter of sports event attendance ensuring that the event more than covers its costs. It is the more fickle casual fan, however, that provides the big profits that mainly go to FIFA. The bulk of these fans would be just as happy to watch the cup on TV."
"FIFA is not interested in justice and this is why the moral imperative has not worked. Ireland needs to be resourceful and hit them where it hurts if they want win this David and Goliath battle."
Barry also points out that Ireland was one of only five unbeaten teams in European qualifying. He said: "They overcame the hurdle of seeding only to be deliberately cheated out of their rightful place in South Africa. If France go on to win the cup, that injustice will be compounded."
Barry O'Mahony is available for interview
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