Europe’s biggest soccer tournament, the delayed Euro 2020, kicked off over the weekend with one sponsor, carmaker Volkswagen, managing to extract a little more out of its contract arrangement.
Friday’s opener between Italy and Turkey (won by the Italians 3-0 in Rome) was overshadowed when the game ball was delivered onto the pitch via a remote-controlled toy Volkswagen SUV.
Even Andrea Bocelli singing the iconic Nessun Dorma just minutes before kick-off had to play second fiddle to the German marque’s clever marketing stunt.
It’s estimated that Euro 2020 will have a global audience of two billion, although numbers for Friday night’s game are unavailable.
Volkswagen was trending on Twitter by kick-off as fans continued to marvel at the powerful but undeniably cheap pre-match stunt. Volkswagen’s slogan for the tournament is ‘We Drive Football’.
Announced in 2017, Volkswagen has a four-year deal with UEFA for an undisclosed amount. In doing so it replaced the incumbent, German rival Mercedes-Benz.
And TV fans at home appeared to love the stunt with a number of favourable social media posts.
One fan tweeted: ‘The little remote control car that delivered the ball onto the pitch is my favourite moment of #EURO2020 so far and I don’t think it will be topped.”
An England fan said: “Just watch that little car take out one of ours on Sunday! #ENG #EURO2020”
“I’m dead at this little car driving the football to kick off!” commented another.
England Women’s international Lianne Sanderson posted: “Am I the only one that wants that little car that brought out the. ball?”
It was unclear whether it’s set to be a regular throughout the tournament, and its non-appearance during Saturday’s Wales-Switzerland fixture caused significant backlash on social media sites. Check out some of the hate below.
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