FIFA World Cup opens this Friday and it appears some residents, politicians and business executives were outraged to look into the sky and see a giant floating “Jesus” hot-air balloon. An Australian gambling company named Sportsbet sent the balloon, which looks like Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue, into the Melbourne skies in an attempt to boost the nation’s spirits.
Australia is matched against three very talented opponents: Chile, Spain and the Netherlands so the gambling company thought this would be a great way to offer support to the home team; of course it would serve as valuable World Cup publicity as well. The balloon featured Jesus wearing an Australian soccer jersey with the Sportsbet logo and the slogan, “#Keep The Faith.”
Matthew Campbell, spokesman for Sportsbet, said the balloon is more about supporting the Socceroos and less about gambling. The Jesus balloon is 53 feet taller than the real statue on top of Rio’s Corcovado Mountain. This 151 foot tall replica was designed to provide a dose of intervention this week for the Australia National Association football team.
Chair of the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce, Reverend Costello, said the stunt was an overreach and does not support the principles for which Jesus stood. One of the great statues in Rio is Jesus. Brazil is a Catholic nation that takes its faith very seriously and its football fanatically. Costello went on to say,
You do not exploit things that are sacred to people simply for your own gain and advertising reach. I think soccer as a world game should be sensitive to that and express their disdain for these types of advertisements.
The hot-air balloon angered many Christians because they felt the company was attempting to connect Jesus to gambling but others thought the concept was brilliant and they were not offended at all. Another religious group called it tacky but also said it is not that serious. Deputy Premier Peter Ryan called the balloon disrespectful saying they ought to sink it; it needs to leave the skies.
One man named William said it is utterly beyond him how anyone could think this was smart marketing. This is deliberately and utterly offensive to the entire Christian population. He was outraged calling it contemptuous and said it shows utter disrespect and disregard to an entire sector of the community; that is the core of stupidity in marketing. Only an idiot would ever endorse such a stupid marketing campaign.
Walter, another person who opted to voice his opinion, said to some it may come across as disrespectful, but in a day where everyone is knocking Christianity people should be happy to see the words, “Keep The Faith” connected to Jesus. Perhaps some may actually be reminded that Jesus exists and start to seek out a faith that can help them get through life’s difficulties.
Elijah said although he despises any form of betting this is a funny and brilliant initiative. Yes, it is slightly controversial but the reality is it is the most internationally recognized symbol of Rio as well as where the World Cup is being held. For anyone to try to blame the concept on the notion of connecting betting with religion is playing to one’s own silly prejudices.
Shaun Anderson, PR manager for Sportsbet, defended the concept reiterating it was all about sending a message of support to the team in Brazil using their own icon. He continued,
Let’s be honest, the Socceroos need a divine intervention in order to progress past their opponents. The message the company aimed to get across is for all Aussies to keep the faith in the Socceroos.
Christians, politicians and business executives in Melbourne were outraged when they spotted a giant “Jesus” hot-air balloon floating through the skies. An Australian gambling company named Sportsbet designed the balloon, which looks like Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue, in an attempt to boost the nation’s spirits for the FIFA World Cup which opens this Friday.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Image Credit: Andrew Tauber