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Basketball Team’s Jersey Ad Cover-Up Leads to Forfeit

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The Basketball Africa League (BAL) — Africa’s top professional hoops league, founded in 2019 as a joint venture by the NBA and FIBA — just began its 2024 season. Each of its 12 teams is wearing a front-jersey ad that reads “Visit Rwanda,” which is the slogan of the Rwanda Development Board. (The Board also has ad partnerships with several top-level European soccer teams, including ads on Arsenal’s jersey sleeve and Paris Saint-Germain’s training kits.)

But as you can see in the photo above, one BAL team — Dynamo BBC, which is based in the Republic of Burundi — taped over their jersey ad during Saturday’s game against the Cape Town Tigers. Here’s another view of the ad cover-up, along with a look at how the ad is supposed to appear:

It turns out that Dynamo opted to obscure the ad because of geopolitical tensions between Burundi and Rwanda. When the team planned to cover up the ad again for Sunday’s game against the Moroccan side FUS Rabat, league officials decided that Dynamo would instead lose by forfeit. Here’s the league’s official statement:

Dynamo’s next scheduled game is on Tuesday. It’s not clear if they’ll relent and wear the ad, or if they’ll be hit with another forfeiture, or if some compromise measure will be reached.

This isn’t the first time a uni ad from the Rwanda Development Board has led to controversy. Arsenal’s “Visit Rwanda” sleeve ad has prompted repeated criticisms of the team due to the human rights abuses committed by Rwandan president Paul Kagame and his regime. Despite the blowback, the team has refused to abandon the sleeve ad, which critics view as a textbook case of sportswashing.

I know some of you are rolling your eyes and thinking, “Keep politics out of sports.” But to me, that’s not the story. The real story is that this is the gazillionth example of why uni ads suck. Advertising, by definition, has an agenda. Sometimes that agenda can be as benign as “Please consider purchasing our product,” but at other times it can be as insidious as “Please ignore our atrocities and instead take us seriously as decent, respectable people because we’re buying a friendship with a famous soccer team.” Either way, the players wearing these ads are forced into a position of de facto advocacy for that agenda, whether they like it or not. For the Dynamo players, this particular statement of advocacy has proven to be a bridge too far.



Too Good for the Ticker

Was out at a New Jersey bar with E yesterday afternoon and spotted this gent wearing a very cool toucan-themed Guinness hockey jersey! It was a particularly appropriate choice for this particular bar, which happens to have Guinness toucan signage both inside and outside.

While I was photographing the guy with the jersey, E was photographing me (with yet another Guinness toucan visible on the wall):




Mascot Watch

This is Uni Watch auxiliary girl mascot Martha (i.e., E’s cat). We took a nap together on Saturday afternoon.



Can of the Day

I love how minimalist and austere this one is. Can you guess what the product is? The little foil-wrapped nugget looks like an edible confection of some sort, right?

Get this: It’s actually a car fuel additive! You put it in your gas tank to improve performance and fight off corrosion. Such a counterintuitive package design for that type of product!

As a bonus, check out the interior design:

Comments (23)

    That can is a perfect example of why products now say “Keep Out Of Reach Of Children”. Wow, yeah, I definitely thought it was a product similar to Altoids.

    Same. Maybe chewing gum or something like that. Definitely didn’t see fuel additive.

    Anybody remember when bleach came in little packets? When I was a baby, I ate one. I am lucky to be alive.

    A few years back, someone started selling sunscreen in foil squeeze pouches that are very similar to the ones that single servings of applesauce are now sold in. What could possibly go wrong?!?!??

    I won a copy of that Guinness jersey a few years ago in a raffle from my local liquor store. It gets exactly one wear a year! For being piece of marketing material, it’s a rather well built jersey. Nice thick fabric and quality embroidering.

    My pop was able to find a version of it with yellow trim instead of green.

    Uni ads suck but for start up leagues That run on tight margins I get it. I’d rather have a league with ads on the jerseys than no league at all. With That said BAL should’ve been more strategic with their choice of sponsor.

    Regarding this “start up league”: The BAL is co-run by the NBA and, as of three years ago, had a valuation of $1 billion. link

    In other words: Not a struggling independent venture.

    This is a great example of why nothing but the team logo and player name/number belong on a uniform. Even something as innocent as the home country’s flag can be a loaded symbol for some players. Just keep it simple and keep anything that doesn’t represent the team off of uniforms.

    This is a great example of why nothing but the team logo and player name/number belong on a uniform.

    And if you’re going to throw your weight around and make a team forfeit a game, let it be for something really important, like having illegible numbers.

    Be careful if you do a google image search for Dynamo BBC, and make sure you type “Dynamo” exactly as written.

    I cannot stop laughing at this.

    Just the image in my head of an aghast Phil as the misguided search populates on your screen.

    To me, this just shows the lack of foresight on BAL’s part. You would think that BAL would understand not to just take the highest bidder for a uni ad when you have a team from Burundi, but they saw dollar signs and signed up with Kagame and now they’re in this mess.

    This is also pretty sad for Dynamo, because it seems the only way out of this is either advertising Rwanda or withdrawing from the league. I hope a compromise can be reached, though what I’d like to see is BAL drop Rwanda completely.

    I’ve never seen that style of Guinness hockey sweater before. All the ones I’ve seen previously have “March” as the NOB, and 17 as the number.

    I’m getting more and more tired of the idea money cures all ills, as if it’s some sort of morality unto itself.

    “We do horrendous things, but we have money and make it look good! Here, have some and ignore the horrendous things we do! And if you don’t take it, or point out the horrendous things we do, there will be consequences.”


    Indeed. This is precisely why I’ve been saying for so many years that “It’s just business” is not a sufficient justification for anything. link

    All hail Martha the Russian Blue cat (or Russian/Chartreux blend; whichever)!

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