Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

The Bravery of Loris Karius

May 27, 2018

Loris Karius

Like all Liverpool FC fans I am devastated today after our team lost the Champions League Final to Real Madrid in the most bizarre match, which saw us lose our most dangerous player Mo Salah to injury due to a cynical challenge after 30 minutes, witness a blunder in a million and a then a goal in a million and then another blunder.

Our charismatic manager Jurgen Klopp said after that you need luck to win a final – he was right, we experienced the exact opposite and lost 3-1.

While a lot of the focus afterwards was on the Gareth Bale wonder goal there was just as much attention on the two “blunders” by the Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius.

As usual social media erupted and some of the nicer comments (on the negative side of the fence) were that he would never recover from such a display and would certainly never wear a Liverpool shirt again.

However, another story has been just as powerful as we watched the heartbreaking tragedy of a young man making the biggest mistakes of his professional career in front of the biggest possible audience – we watched him weeping on the ground.

For me the most striking part of this story was his bravery.

Instead of disappearing from the pitch into the nearest and darkest cupboard he walked to the Liverpool fans weeping and gesturing as he sought forgiveness.

He didn’t avoid interviews, he apologised to the fans.

He went onto Instagram today and apologised, knowing he would probably get a barrage of abuse:

I know I messed up with the two mistakes and I let you all down

I hope he gets over this huge setback and that he fulfils all of his potential and becomes a legend at our club.

In this age of money, little loyalty and an abundance of cynicism in sport we need real characters with bravery.

Loris – I’m looking forward to seeing you back in a Liverpool shirt.

 

Greg 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should Bank of Ireland have made a braver statement about their Ulster Rugby sponsorship?

April 12, 2018

Ulster Rugby

Today, Bank of Ireland issued a statement to the media concerning their sponsorship of Ulster Rugby.

They have said that it is ‘highly concerned‘ and is reviewing its partnership with the province following the Belfast rape trial.

In their statement the bank confirmed that it has conveyed concerns to Ulster CEO Shane Logan following the high-profile trial.

As a sponsor of Ulster Rugby, Bank of Ireland is highly concerned regarding the serious behaviour and conduct issues which have emerged as a result of the recent high profile trial,” read a Bank of Ireland statement.

The Bank has formally conveyed these concerns to the CEO of Ulster Rugby.

It is of paramount importance to Bank of Ireland that our sponsorship activity aligns with and supports our core values, and reflects positively on Bank of Ireland through association.

We understand that an internal review is underway. We expect this review to be robust, to fully address the issues raised, and that decisions will be taken – and policies and protocols be put in place – that fully address the issues that have arisen.

“Given that a review is underway, we won’t comment further on this issue at this time.

What do you think of what Bank of Ireland have done here?

Let’s look at what they have said first..

They are highly concerned regarding the serious behaviour and conduct issues..

At least this shows their position about what emerged during the court case – in truth, while “highly concerned” is strong language it is probably not going far enough considering what did emerge during the trial.

During the trial the court heard about a series of WhatsApp messages in which Mr Olding said “we are all top shaggers”

Mr Jackson wrote: “There was a lot of spit roasting last night.”

Olding told the WhatsApp group: “It was like a merry-go-round at a carnival.”

The Bank has formally conveyed these concerns to the CEO of Ulster Rugby..

They are letting us know in advance of any decision by Ulster Rugby their position with this issue.

It is of paramount importance to Bank of Ireland that our sponsorship activity aligns with and supports our core values..

The reason any brand sponsors anything is to associate with the brand values and gain something positive from this – the bank are saying clearly here that what has happened here does not align with the core values.

The sponsorship is of huge importance to the sport and if it was pulled, without doubt this would have an impact on many.

Given that a review is underway, we won’t comment further on this issue at this time..

By acknowledging the review by Ulster Rugby (they mention the robust process) they are sort of saying “lets wait and see and we’ll decide what to do next“.

OK…

Let’s be clear – the statement issued to the media was written for the public’s benefit – they want us, their target audience to know that they have core values, that they aren’t happy with what happened and how this may impact on them and that they have conveyed this to Ulster Rugby.

While the statement from them has come a little bit too late (they could be accused of reacting now because of the public backlash) it is clever to a point as it gives them advance “wiggle room” around any decision coming from Ulster Rugby.

If Ulster Rugby go light on the two rugby players Bank of Ireland can kill their sponsorship (potentially damaging to the sport) and they are off the hook. They would possibly have to consider the possible backlash of avid sporting fans.

If Ulster Rugby go heavy and fire the players then the bank have already made their position clear in advance and can count this as a “core values” win.

Our advice..

Their blatant disrespect for a young woman, as demonstrated through their deplorable messaging to each other,  cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.

People, young and old look up to their sports-stars and they must be held to very high standards.  We expect that of our heroes.

If Bank Of Ireland are really concerned about their brand (for legal reasons they may have to go easy) they should state categorically and with no uncertainty that they will pull their sponsorship if these players are allowed to play for the team again.

These men demonstrated without question the most horrible behaviour and disrespect to women and this should be called out plain and simple, for all our sake.

Bank of Ireland must really think of their brand and not wait in the wings to see what action Ulster Rugby will take.

Be brave Bank of Ireland..

Greg Canty 

Rugby, Our Good Life and Bandages

November 13, 2017

Ireland versus South Africa

When your taxi driver starts chatting thoughtfully to you about inequality and homelessness you know that it’s a huge penny that’s dropping with everyone.

(Interestingly, our Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar has just received huge criticism for commenting that the levels of homelessness are quite normal in Ireland compared to other countries!)

I was making typical, idle conversation with the driver about “how business was with him” and how it must be much better, that we are out of recession – he responded by saying, that “he knew where I was going with the conversation

Yes, things were much better but definitely not for everyone. The rich are getting richer, while others are struggling to survive

He spoke compassionately about the homeless people that he passes every day (we passed many of them on our taxi ride) and mentioned the fundraising that the taxi drivers do – they won’t give them money but they will give them food and essential items.

I mentioned the little piece of work that we had done with Dublin Simon and added my observations – you just feel like you are putting a bandage on something, but actually achieving very little. However, that bandage is required – until the bigger issues are tackled successfully, plenty of bandages are needed.

We were in Dublin for the Ireland v South Africa rugby match – I’m not into rugby but did feel privileged to be able to watch the match in the magnificent Aviva Stadium.

Of course the tickets were expensive and we also bought the other extras including headsets and match programmes. There was a non-stop procession of people walking past us throughout the match with their trays full of beer. I did wonder if many of them were there to watch the game or just drink beer and have the craic!

During our stay we ate well and drank too much, taking our taxis from place to and we stayed in the fine Croke Park Hotel.

We are the lucky ones to be able to afford to do this.

Jonathan Corrie, Homeless man in Dublin

I was asking the driver about “this” side of Dublin as it still seems to be very run down with a few spots here and there that seem a little better.

The driver pointed out the properties that a company called Key Collection had in this part of town. There were lots of individual properties with a distinctive black door that apparently they let out on short term lettings.

The driver expressed his surprise at the locations of these properties, but he explained that they will make much more money on these short term lettings rather than renting them on a permanent basis to families and other people who need them.

He reckons this is a real shame, but reasoned that money wins at the end of the day – we agreed that it was a good thing that at least someone was investing in these properties (probably acquired cheaply) and this would help to improve these parts of the city.

He also pointed out to us some of the drug areas in the city as we drove by, and he filled us in on which drug family controlled each.

I don’t think he was very happy with this “cosmopolitan Dublin” that he felt he didn’t know as well as he did before – “we can’t lose the friendliness that we were always renowned for”.

As he dropped us to the train station his conclusion was that greed was ultimately driving all of this inequality. Is it greed or is it something else?

I guess when we don’t know how to solve these bigger problems, when we don’t know how to get beyond the bandages, do we just concentrate on looking after ourselves?

…Our good life

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

The Ultimate Football Legend

June 18, 2017

Michael Canty - Oscar Traynor Cup winner 1966“Legend” is a huge word and when we talk about football legends we all have our favourites depending on what we look for in a player, the era when we grew up, the part of the world we come from and our favourite teams.

Could it be Pele, the sublime Brazilian magician with the huge smile who captured the worlds attention at the beginning of the football watching TV generation or is it  the more recent Messi or free scoring Ronaldo (ok, he’s brilliant but what a poser!)?

As a huge Liverpool FC fan I have to think about putting Kenny Daglish on my list as well as Robbie Fowler who in his prime must get a mention. How could I ignore Steven Gerrard who played a huge role in any success the team enjoyed in the more recent past and I also loved the no messing, elegant centre half Sami Hyppia.

When pushed for an absolute winner someone else, someone very special, but quite unknown rushes to the top of my list.

He’s a man who played to a very high level in Cork before emigrating to the United States in 1958, captaining teams that enjoyed national success. He played as a centre half in those teams and according to many people I have met down through the years he was highly respected.

Football, or soccer wasn’t popular in the U.S. but he did play a little over there with a team called the Newark Portugese and he continued to play in local leagues when he returned to Cork in 1964.

In 1966 he captained a representative team that was the first from Cork to win the prestigious Oscar Traynor Cup.

Like all proud fathers he played endless hours of football with his own son and then his grandchildren, passing on his passion, his encouragement and his skills to other generations. These different generations were brought to see Cork Hibs, Cork Celtic and later Cork City FC matches on a regular basis.

His love of football and fantastic, encouraging manner with young people had the neighbouring children knocking on his front door wondering was he coming out to play football with them on a regular basis!

I had the honour of walking with him recently in Ballincollig Park in Cork. Suddenly I found myself chatting to myself as he was no longer walking alongside me.

I looked back to see that he had stopped and was kicking a football back and forth to a young girl who was at the park with her mother. He was showing her how to kick the ball properly and had her repeating the action, over and over.

My number 1, football legend is Michael Canty (Mick to his teammates), my dad.

Thank you Pops, you are the very best

We will miss you desperately..

Greg Canty

Jurgen Klopp and his Ten Management Tips

December 7, 2015

Jurgen Klopp

I’m writing this a little bit depressed after a very disappointing defeat away to struggling Newcastle but in general we have seen a transformation of Liverpool FC in the last two months since Jurgen Klopp, the manager has arrived.

The players have been transformed, the same squad that we thought were lousy purchases are now looking like great players and we have had a few very impressive results of late (except for Newcastle!) and it does seem to be wholly down to the charismatic manager (the self declared Normal One) who has previously enjoyed huge success in Germany with Borussia Dortmund.

Pretty much every Liverpool fan believes that success is around the next corner, which was certainly not the case before he joined the club.

How can a manager make such a difference and can the lessons we learn from him be applied to our own businesses?

What does Jurgen do that is so special?

1.”Belief” 

The first thing he did when he joined the club was he made a declaration to the fans “We need to change from doubters to believers

He gave every fan and player something to think about – we must believe if we want to achieve, which is a simple and yet powerful statement.

He went on to say that he believed in the team at the club, which was why he joined in the first place – if you were a player listening to these words you would feel good about yourself.

Do you believe in your team?

Jurgen Klopp

2.Honesty, openness and no jargon

When he is asked a question by the media he gives a straight, honest and open answer. He talks in a simple way that we all understand and can relate to.

He tells us that football is a simple game ..he is right!

Can you be open and honest with your team?

Jurgen Klopp hugging

3.Don’t be afraid to hug!

We watch him going onto the pitch after the matches and playfully hugging the players. This seems to be a lot more than professionals doing their jobs!

Are people happier when they are treated like this?

4.Have fun

Jurgen loves to laugh, he has a huge smile and he seems to do it all of the time and it is infectious. At the press conferences the media laugh with him.

He tells the players to enjoy themselves on the pitch.

Can work be fun?

Jordan Henderson with Klopp

5.Don’t take it too seriously

Unlike Bill Shankly the legendary Liverpool manager who said football was “more important than life or death” Jurgen says it is just a game and that it should be enjoyed and not taken too seriously – you can see he lives this.

Are your team so stressed that they can’t function properly?

6.Work Hard

This is a key success factor with him. All of his teams are known for their ferocious work ethic – without hard work you won’t win.

This is totally non-negotiable with him.

Are your team prepared and motivated enough to give  you 110%?

7.Have a plan

Already he has managed a few historic victories against some of the big teams and he puts this down to hard work combined with good planning. In one of these matches he fielded a surprising team who played exceptionally and won – he explained after that he had time to plan and prepare with this group of players so there was no point using some of the bigger stars.

Are you planning carefully?

8,Things go wrong – that’s football!

He commented that with the Liverpool team he noticed that they would implode if they conceded in a match and as a result could not recover from this situation.

He has taught the team to accept that things will go wrong and that this is part and parcel of competing – just learn not to give up when it happens!

Do your team have resolve?

9.Mr Motivator

He does seem to have the gift of bringing the best out of each and every single player. He seems to know when a hug works, when a few positive mentions in press conferences will work and when helpful advice from the sideline works (he does scream and roar during the matches).

We clearly don’t see everything that goes on but the players have gone on record as to the huge difference he has made to them.

Do you feel motivating your team is important?

klopp celebrating

10.Passion

Take just one look at him when he celebrates a goal or even when he lives every kick and moment of the matches…he is incredibly passionate!

If you aren’t passionate can you expect your team to be?

What factors would you add to this list?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

Facing the Music 

October 7, 2015

Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool

Week after week I watched the pre and post-match interviews.

As a lifelong Liverpool FC fan I’ve been concerned about the team’s loss of form and I am glued to each of those interviews to see what our manager, Brendan Rodgers had to say.

I was starting to feel a lot of sympathy for him as the line of questioning was unrelenting. At each interview it was the same thing “Are you under pressure?” “Are the players under pressure?” “Is the team suffering from a loss of confidence?” “Do you have the backing of the owners?

Then of course this becomes the topic with all of the pundits, the former players and it makes for headlines in the newspapers “Rodgers under pressure“..the screw is slowly but surely being turned.

Normally the interviews used to focus on the match, the tactics, the performance of players, the injury situation but most of the recent ones were all about his job security. It became the latest episode of an ongoing soap opera.

Interview after interview he batted these questions away, not getting frustrated and insisting that he and the team were not affected but instead they were concentrating on their jobs. He recently did speak about the ‘hysteria‘ around his job by the media and he did mention a ‘group’ who wanted him out.

He did have a point – it was a little over the top.

Match after match the manager of each team must ‘face the music’ – good result or bad result he has to face the media. This must be a tough and very punishing routine when things are not going your way.

I was impressed that the Liverpool team started so impressively in the local derby match against Everton. This was a huge game for him and the team – while the match wasn’t perfect the team were very focused despite the pressure.

Once again after the match he faced the music – it was the same story.

After the same repetitive line of questioning he stated that he didn’t need to look for reassurance from the owners and he hoped he would be the manager for years to come.

This was even more cruelty – the team had just earned a good result away to Everton and this was still the big topic of the questioning!

An hour later when he got off the team bus he was summoned to the office and relieved of his duties. The pressure valve was finally released.

The club confirmed the news by simply posting a press statement on the company website.

This was clearly prepared in advance, carefully crafted and just posted on the website and more than likely issued to the media by their press office.

Ironically no one in management had to sit in front of the media and ‘face the music‘. Their statement would suffice.

Football is a very cruel sport where the players and the managers are in the full glare of the media spotlight constantly and no matter how much they are trained to handle this pressure it must eventually wear them down.

Brendan Rodgers – thank you for the incredible highs of the 2013/2014 season where you had the team playing some of the most incredible and exciting football I have ever seen.

You very nearly did it!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

 

Win at all costs?

April 29, 2014

Mourinho celebrating against Liverpool

Besides being totally and utterly devastated after watching Liverpool lose the advantage in the title charge because of a defeat to a very cynical, Jose Mourinho, Chelsea side I was surprised at the mixed reaction to the match.

In my view, (which I realise is totally biased because I am a Liverpool fan) I felt Chelsea came and effectively cheated their way to an awful victory.

Despite having 190 million pounds worth of talent on the pitch Jose Mourinho instructed his team to spoil the football match by constantly disrupting it by time wasting and then ‘parking two buses‘ in front of the goal – it was a successful ploy as Chelsea won the match and Liverpool despite being the better team couldn’t create a clear chance or a piece of magic that would lead to a goal.

How could those talented players want to perform like this? Is this why he lost the support of some of the players at Real Madrid?

I’m gutted that horrible, spoiling tactics won the match for Chelsea and that the win came from an awful, misfortunate slip by the most passionate player on the pitch, Stephen Gerrard, which led to a simple gift of a goal.

In there was any fairness wouldn’t you think that if any luck was going on the day it would be to the team that tried to play football and not to the nasty, negative and horrible Mourinho and his team? I was sick watching him run to the supporters punching his chest after they scored – “you deserve nothing” I felt.

After the game this view was shared by nearly every Liverpool fan I spoke to and so many others – how can such cynicism win through, it’s bad for football, why didn’t the ref punish time wasting at the beginning of the match instead of at 92 minutes when the damage was done?

While this was the most popular view I was surprised by how many others who felt it was a tactical masterpiece, his aim was to spoil and he succeeded, who cares how you do it, isn’t winning the objective?

After all, how you win is irrelevant..

In your business is it win at all costs?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Oscar Pistorius and the Paddy Power PR Win

March 4, 2014

Oscar Pistorius Paddy Power advert

One thing is for sure – it has us all talking!

Was this the obvious objective when Paddy Power cobbled together their latest advertising stunt?

Just in case you have missed it, Paddy Power are taking bets on the Oscar Pistorius murder trail against his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. They caused outrage initially by offering odds on the outcome of the premeditated murder trial – 7/4 for a guilty verdict and 2/5 for not guilty.

Not only does this stunt interfere and shape public opinion about the verdict of the court case, there was also an immediate public reaction with many Twitter users branding the gimmick ‘vile’ and ‘disgusting’.

Paddy Power then took things even further, by offering losing bets a refund if the 27-year-old is found not guilty. This “no lose” offer for customers was featured heavily on newspaper adverts adding even further fuel to this controversial fire, demonstrating that Paddy Power didn’t really care about the negative public and media reaction.

Not only has Twitter been on fire about the issue but newspapers and radio have given the “bet” extra momentum through extensive negative coverage.

On national radio, RTE Liveline, Paddy Power defended the move to take bets on the trial: “This is the biggest profile trial that has ever been. It’s the only topic of conversation around the world. It’s to provide customers with the opportunity to bet on something that everyone is talking to.”

It sounds as if they are doing us all a huge favour by allowing us to take bets on such an event – are we that desperate?

The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK have already reacted though their official Twitter account: “We’re fast tracking a formal investigation into the Paddy PowerOscar Pistorius‘ ad. No need to lodge a complaint, we’re looking into it” .

There is also a campaign running on change.co with 117,000 people already (at the time of writing) who have signed a petition to Patrick Kennedy, MD of Paddy Power to “please remove your offensive betting on the outcome of the Oscar Pistorius trial and donate any profits so far to a women’s charity fighting violence against women

Despite all of this the Paddy Power adverts continue to run and the company defends them under the heading of “customer service”.

Oscar Pistorius

The horrible truth is this is a huge awareness victory for Paddy Power, way beyond the cost of the adverts or any payouts for winning bets. Sadly the bigger a storm we make of the issue the more attention we draw to Paddy Power and the more traffic will be pushed towards their website.

If this negative publicity was deemed to be damaging to the Paddy Power reputation you can be assured it would be retracted immediately but I am guessing that the view from within the company is that the publicity is good because the belief is that the target betting audience isn’t that bothered.

The women’s groups and the general public can be outraged all they want but as long as the campaign helps the company to attract the betting fraternity this is one of those times when any publicity is good publicity.

However, while the campaign appears as a clever win for Paddy Power it does leave a bitter after-taste, which in the long run could undermine the brand alongside the flawed Olympic star who at one point could do no wrong.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

Nature, Nurture and all things Equal

February 9, 2014

Men's 100m final Usain Bolt

All of the finalists in every men’s Olympic 100 meters from 1984 onwards have been black. Not only that but all have had their family origins  in sub-Saharan West Africa, whose inhabitants are genetically programmed to run fast.

Speed over short distances comes from fast-twitch muscle fibres, which contract twice as fast as slow-twitch. Calf muscles of elite sprinters have 75% fast-twitch. Half milers have 50-50 fast, while long distance runners mostly slow. Although slower they can endure longer, which might explain why Jamaica produces elite sprinters such as Usain Bolt but no long distance stars.

The fastest Jamaican 10,000 meter runner would not have qualified for the London Olympics.

The Sports Gene David EpsteinI was fascinated by the subject matter in the review of a book by David Epstein called “The Sports Gene” in a magazine called Oldies, on our way to Munich. (Oldies !! I know what you are thinking – what was Greg doing reading that? It just looked like the most interesting magazine on the shelf at the airport newsagent. Some fabulous articles in it.)

One of the central themes in the book was: Are we purely a product of our genes or can we shape our destiny by dedication and hard work?

This is a difficult topic as it forces you into areas such as race, genetics, gender in our politically correct world.

There are definite conclusions in the well researched book such as  “sporting prowess is in fact, usually down to your genes plus plenty of practice“.

Michael Shermer in his review of the book in the Wall Street Journal commented  “it was bound to put the cat among the pigeons with the blank-slate crowd who think we can all be equal as long as we equalise environmental inputs such as practice“.

There are things that some people due to race, gender or genetics are just better at and instead of fighting this we should understand it, appreciate it and even embrace it.

Whether it is sport, work or life instead of arguing and getting all riled up about the imbalanced percentages we should try better to understand why this is the case and explore if it is nature causing the differences and nothing else.

The most important thing for me is that if I want to run the 100 metres, become a ballet dance, operate a crane, play the drums, become a nurse, become a politician, or start a new business I can.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin