The cricket World Cup continues to cause controversy – but this time it is not drug-taking Australians or Brit boycotts that have hit the headlines. Off the field, organisers’ legal enforcement of sponsorship deals is causing a stir.

Last week it was reported that the South Africa had become the first nation in the world to ban ‘guerrilla’ or ‘ambush’ marketing in a bid to prevent firms cashing in on major events such as the World Cup without paying for the privilege [WAMN: 19-Feb-03].

So strict is this law, it transpires, that the cricket tournament’s fifteen venues are scoured for any unofficial logos before each match. Spectators are not allowed to wear clothes or drink beverages bearing the branding of a sponsor’s rival.

As a result, Coca-Cola-guzzling cricket fans have seen their chosen beverage confiscated at the gate or snatched by stewards patrolling the stands, since Pepsi is one of the event’s four official sponsors. One Coke drinker has even been evicted.

Not only that, spectators have had to peel the labels from bottles of mineral water before being allowed in the ground. Clothing and flags made by a sponsor’s rival have also been frowned upon.

The legislation is so strict, in fact, that serious offenders could face jail sentences.

South Africa hopes its hard line on sponsorship will stand it in good stead in its bid for the 2010 Olympic Games.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff