NEARLY 56 years ago, on Aug 31 1957, Malaysia gained independence from the British.
But, you won’t know it if you were at the Adidas Chelsea Blue Pitch Training session today.
While treating guests like royalty has always been a major part of Malaysia’s identity, treating the locals like second class citizens certainly isn’t.
As such, Adidas scored a PR own goal when, despite inviting the local media to attend the training session, only allowed the British media” access to the London club’s players.
Perhaps it was the local PR’s team “I need to impress the Mat Sallehs and put them on a pedestal” attitude. Or maybe, Adidas and Chelsea think the Malaysian media are not good enough to interview the “superstars” from the English Premier League.
We were told we would not be able to enter the courts upon registration. Later on when enquiring on interview slots, we were told the organisers are sorting it out and we would be informed shortly.
After waiting a while, the local media once again enquired about the interviews and were told by a representative from the PR company: “The interviews are taking place inside now with selected press and we have been told that there are no more interviews. The orders came from Chelsea, we can’t do anything.”
It was then we learnt the British press were all almost done conducting interviews, but we were refused entry despite being invited. Only one local press representative managed to sneak in with the foreign writers.
Understandably, we made our frustration known, having wasted our time attending a function only to add crowd to the circus.
“Well you can still be here and take pictures,” said the same representative.
We then hear, via third parties, that it was an exclusive event and not open to all.
If that was the case why were the local press invited? Why didn’t the organisers/PR agency inform us about restrictions? Why ask for a RSVP and then not act on it?
We have to realise that the British colonial days are long over, unless of course you count English Premier League clubs’ euphoria invading Malaysia. The motives are arguably the same though – making profit.
It certainly seems like the Royal London Circus has come to town and we are just mere spectators … unless Adidas and Chelsea think the local media are clowns.
Update: Chelsea FC Public Relations (PR) and Communications Head Steve Atkins in a telephone call to sports247.my apologised for the gaffe but refused to pin the blame on any party.
“We are sorry for the hiccup. It was result of a miscommunication and we regret the incident. It was never our intention to neglect the local press. In fact we have had a good relationship with the press from our previous trips here,” said Atkins.