Saturday, August 11, 2007

My Beer My Beer, My Kingdom For A Beer

From the wonderful, beer-soaked world of Bulgarian soccer:
A clash between two rival brewers over a beer ad could prevent Dimitar Penev from taking the reins of Bulgaria's national team, it emerged on Wednesday. Bulgarian FA and national team sponsor Zagorka threatened to sue the football body for EUR 1M [$1.4M] if it employed Penev, who appears in a TV advert for competitor Kamenitza. Zagorka, the Bulgarian arm unit of Heineken, is willing to drop its lawsuit if the ad is pulled off the air, which Kamenitza, the InBev subsidiary, has no plans to do so.

The FA's legal advisors have been poring over the sponsorship deal with Zagorka to determine whether it precludes FA employees, as well as the national team's players, from appearing in ads for its sponsors' competitors. The chairman of the Bulgarian FA, Borislav Mihaylov, is set to meet with officials from Zagorka on Wednesday to try and settle the dispute.

After failing to secure the services of a foreign manager, the FA had to settle for Penev as an option of last resort, coaxing him out of semi-retirement to take charge of the team until next year's European Championship. Penev is very popular in Bulgaria, having taken the national team to the semi-finals of the World Cup in the U.S. in 1994 and then guiding it to its first ever qualification for the European championship finals two years later. He has been the spokesperson for Kamenitza's initiatives supporting amateur football since 2004.
But fear not, the Great Bulgarian Beer War (2007-2007) was eventually resolved, Penev is officially back in charge. Their next match is a September 8th European Championship qualifier in Holland. Bulgaria are currently in second place in Group G, two points behind leaders Romania and one point clear of Marco van Basten's Dutch squad.

Beer War Brews Trouble for Bulgarian Football Authorities [Sofia News Agency]
Penev to coach Bulgaria for second time [Reuters]
EURO2008 Group G Standings []


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