Written by Robert Burgin
Photo by Bruno Ruas
WHOA, whoa, whoa. Has anybody told FIFA they are going to have to cancel the next World Cup?
No, not because of COVID or those persistent allegations about labour conditions in Qatar.
Has anybody pointed out to them that 12 of their national teams have been known by the same logo?
Yes, that’s right – around the world 12 national football (or soccer, if you prefer) teams have been called some variation of ‘The Lions’.
Surely to allow them to proceed is madness and will create a devastating tempest of confusion, the likes of which would cause the brains of fans to explode and destroy modern civilisation as we know it, rendering the World Cup inconsequential.
How will anybody ever tell the difference between England, Bulgaria, Cameroon, the Czech Republic, Iran, Iraq, the Congo, Cuba, Luxembourg, Morocco, Senegal or Singapore?
If it seems like I’m being facetious, melodramatic or illogical, you’re welcome to call me all three. That’s because that’s exactly what I’m being.
My tongue-in-cheek introduction is a reference to a storm in a teacup this week surrounding the selection of Brasil Rugby League’s men’s mascot. You can vote for the one you like on Facebook.
I wasn’t initially going to respond to the furore, because it seemed so ludicrous.
But now I have seen several people involved in international rugby league commenting about the matter, it’s worthwhile putting the record straight.
Another country, which I won’t name because I believe a thirst for publicity is the predominant cause for their vocal outburst, decided to take to social media and issue a petulant statement.
Their statement accused Brasil of “undermining” their nation and creating “difficulty bringing a new sport to a country”.
That’s apparently because they had put ‘dibs’ on the mascot of the Jaguar, and one of the 10 potential logos for Brasil’s men’s team was a variation of the same animal, albeit in a completely different language and presented in a completely different aesthetic, both graphically and grammatically.
Onças-Pintadas is how the team was proposed to be known in Brasil. Again I stress, it was only one of a handful of possible team names, voted on by the public.
Let’s establish some facts first, seeing as the other nation chose to omit these when it elected to take discussions into the public domain in such provocative fashion.
I’m not involved with Brasil’s men’s team other than assisting with some development coaching and organising in Australia. I am not a director or officeholder for the men’s team at all.
My only official position with Brasil Rugby League is with their women’s World Cup team.
The conceptualisation and creation of possible logos for the men’s team was handled entirely by people who live in Brasil fulltime, predominantly the talented graphic designer Liam Piacente.
None of these domestic figures in Brasil even realised rugby league had a presence in the country that chose to post their inflammatory remarks. What’s more, when they found out, they thought the country was in a different continent altogether, such is its small and obscure nature.
However, as they say, ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law, so let’s furnish this whole debate with some other facts.
The country doing the griping is not affiliated with the International Rugby League.
They are not registered as a sporting body or legal entity in their country.
They have never staged a game, and from what I can tell, never had a single training session.
They have not trademarked their logo.
They have less than 100 followers on Facebook.
The fact they have not done better in these aspects may have something to do with the fact that the solitary person propping up their organisation lives in a remote spot on the other side of the world, has never visited their nation, and has minimal credibility in the rugby league world.
It might also be pointed out that nowhere on this country’s logo does it say the word ‘Jaguars’. There are roughly a dozen spotted cats native to the Americas, so deciphering a logo without a name is a roll of the dice.
This is the sporting equivalent of putting ‘dibs’ on a girl or boy at primary school that you will likely never talk to or have even the faintest chance of taking out for a strawberry thickshake.
It’s somewhat akin to domain squatting – and just as endearing.
This is about as far from the alleged brand confusion between the Redcliffe Dolphins and once-proposed Gold Coast Dolphins as you can get.
If Brasil is drawn to face this team in international rugby league in the next 20 years, I will walk backwards from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo singing Roberto Carlos tunes at the top of my lungs.
I’m tempted to say that if this country plays any international games in the next 20 years, I’d do the same.
However, the purpose of this article is not to denigrate the country itself – a country I hope ultimately succeeds in our great sport.
Rather, it’s to throw some light on a single person who thinks they can make aggressive, misdirected statements on an international scale with nothing to back it up.
A bitter person fuelled so much by their own ego that they don’t recognise nobody aside from them perceives this as an issue.
Tell me exactly how Brasil being called Onças-Pintadas (which seems unlikely, regardless) would “create difficulty bringing a new sport to the country”. Would the inhabitants of this minnow nation who apparently know nothing of the sport somehow be turned away by the existence of a vaguely similar mascot of a rugby league team in another hemisphere?
Imagine thinking that the concept of an animal which is synonymous with an entire continent belonged solely to you.
Argentina’s Jaguares, the Jacksonville Jaguars and this particular country’s very own national football team might be highly interested in that concept.
Yep, you read that last part correct, the same supposed ‘rugby league organisation’ erroneously complaining about logo appropriation has, indeed, appropriated the same Jaguar mascot from their national soccer team.
It’s difficult not to laugh.
Don’t believe everything you read online – and be careful where it comes from.
(PS don’t forget to vote on the Brasil men’s logo. You have until the end of the weekend to do so. At the time of publication Onças-Pintadas was a distant second, rendering this kerfuffle a moot point in any case)
If you fancy supporting underdogs Brasil (Women) on their World Cup journey, it is possible to make a one-off or weekly donation that will go towards the costs of their training camps and warm-up fixtures – or even get your name on their official training shirt. Click here to support Brasil’s women’s team, a team that will consist of approximately 90 per cent domestically-based players.