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Rio-Gate

By Matt Peden

12 June 2012

The 2012 UEFA European Championships are firmly underway and although there has been minimal excitement in England around the tournament, for the first time in years, it was interesting to read that the FA are pleased with their open approach to the media after the failures of the previous campaign in South Africa.

The FA were criticized in 2010 for making the players and media feel isolated by choosing Rustenburg, a small rural city in SA, as their base camp for the World Cup. The players were said to be frustrated and bored at the lack of activity.

It is said that the FA are doing everything to engage with the local community after choosing their base in a busy city centre square in Krakow for this year’s tournament. Taken from this article on PR Week, an FA spokesman said: ‘After the World Cup in 2010 we decided that we should have a city centre location instead of a isolated retreat, and that we wanted to have a more open approach to our stay during the tournament.’

However, although I agree that they have done the right thing here, it wouldn’t be England at a major championship with controversy and the saga with Rio Ferdinand has completely overshadowed all the positive activity the FA has consciously prepared pre-tournament.

This is the beauty of working within football and here at Hatch we are no strangers to such events. The best agencies can plan, plan, and plan again, to every small detail, but sometimes other events can remove all this work within an instance.

The way the FA have communicated the “football reasons” for Rio Ferdinand’s absence at this year’s tournament has been nothing short of dismal. I’m not sure this is their fault on this occasion and a lot can be said for the numerous changes that have taken place within the England camp in the last three months.

Taking the players to Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz and engaging with the local community in Krakow has brought the team back to the fans, which is what needed to happen. However, the FA remains like an old high school friend you haven’t seen in a while, or like Alan Shearer’s shirts so far on the BBC’s coverage – you never know what to expect!