Referee poster falls foul of watchdog

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The Independent Online
AN ITALIAN sportswear firm under fire over an advertisement said today it never intended causing offence with a poster showing a football referee bound and gagged in the boot of a car.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rejected Diadora's explanation that the billboard poster was a "tongue-in-cheek" portrayal of the emotional feelings that a fan might feel towards a referee.

Diadora argued that the poster - which showed cuts and bruises on the referee's legs, hands and face - portrayed an exaggerated scenario and the character had a "slapstick" expression on his face.

But the ASA said the joke did not work and the expression on the referee's face was, in fact, one of fear as though he had been kidnapped.

An ASA spokesman said it had upheld four complaints on the grounds of taste and decency about the nationwide poster campaign.

He said: "The joke went wrong. They just went too far. The referee has got cuts all over him and the expression on his face is one of fear."