Schweinsteiger is piggy in middle of a sausage saga
Has Bastian Schweinsteiger taken the bratwurst in terms of player image rights with his recent court ruling?
Harry Pearson - March 30, 2007 12:00 AM
I'm sure my regular reader (Sorry I forgot Mother's Day, by the way. We've been terribly, terribly busy. I'll phone you on Sunday) is eager to hear my views on Steve McClaren and the Lampard-Gerrard debate but that will have to wait. As Bayern Munich's general manager, Uli Hoeness, once announced to a room full of journalists, "I am not here to talk about football, I am here to talk about sausages."
The cause for this gastronomic diversion is a court case involving one of Hoeness's employees at the Olympic Stadium, the German midfield ace Bastian Schweinsteiger. Bastian's surname means "pig climber". How the 22-year-old's ancestors came by this moniker I am not sure. Perhaps scaling pigs is a job in Germany. Maybe it was once a popular hobby. Or perhaps it was just an isolated incident culminating in the punch line, "But you clamber on one pig . . . "
Whatever, Bastian is not the first Bayern player with an unusual name. The club president Franz Beckenbauer's surname means "basin farmer". This conjures up a pleasant image of the Kaiser strolling through meadows filled with capering sinks. And when the flocks are safely in for the night, far from the eyes of predatory plumbers, returning to his farmhouse to discuss with his wife the possibility of diversifying into French bidets or getting an EU grant for raising rare-breed urinals.
Anyway, be that as it may or may not, Schweinsteiger's name is the root cause of the legal action. His nickname, you see, is "Schweini" and, when he found out that a meat product wholesaler from Aichach-Friedberg in Bavaria was selling Rostbratwurst under that name, he sought legal redress. Since these were pork sausages - Schweinswürstl - and "Schweini" means "Piggy", you might have thought the butcher would have had a case. Alas, as anyone with a bit of knowledge could have told the unfortunate Fleischhandler, away from the terraces, sport and sausages go together like, well, young Frank and the squeaky Scouser.
Whenever the two things meet the result is about as cheering as watching Iain Dowie chew a dung beetle. Ferenc Puskas's Castilian sausage factory went into receivership, for example, while Hoeness's own establishment was raided by police looking for illegal workers. Earlier this month the VIP area of the Stadion am Bieberer Berg, home of Kickers Offenbach, had to be evacuated after a police sniffer dog showed a less than professional interest in an unmarked package which turned out, under examination by bomb disposal experts, to contain a selection of prime wurst meant as a gift for the club president.
Twelve months ago we even heard the sad tale of the Romanian defender Marius Cioara, a man forced to abandon the game he loved for good because of the effect of sausages. Cioara, you may recall, was transferred from the Romanian second-flight club UT Arad to the fourth division outfit Regal Hornia for a fee of 15kg of prime pork links. Within a few days of the deal being done, however, he had packed his bags and fled the country. "The sausage taunts all got too much," he confessed. "They were making sausage jokes.
"They said I would have got more from the Germans. It was a huge insult. I have decided to go to Spain where I have got a job on a farm." Officials from Hornia were distraught. "Not only have we lost our sausages, we have also lost a footballer," the club president wailed.
And before that we had to endure the terrible incident of the assault on the Milwaukee Brewers' salami. This was not a real sausage, admittedly - it was a female Brewers employee dressed in a giant sausage costume as part of the baseball club's hugely popular interval sausage race - but it demonstrates my point. The race sees half-a-dozen similarly clad (a personal favourite is "El Picante", the 8ft-tall chorizo in the dashing sombrero) fans and employees scampering round the outfield and is regarded as the cultural highlight of any trip to Wisconsin.
On this occasion, for reasons only Sigmund Freud could explain, the sight of a young woman dressed as an Italian sausage running past him gave the Pittsburg Pirate Randall Simon a brainstorm and he clonked her over the head with his bat. The salami hit the ground, a lady dressed as a frankfurter tripped over her, a bratwurst sizzled down the final straight to victory and the police turned up and dragged Randall away in handcuffs, charged with misdemeanour assault. As his team-mate Reggie Sanders observed philosophically: "It's very strange - live and learn. Unfortunately that's what life is all about."
Unhappily nobody does seem to have learned that sport and sausages do not mix. With the result that the Munich courts found themselves pondering whether a pork sausage called "Schweini" was breaching the individual rights of a millionaire footballer called "Schweini".
After due deliberation they ruled against the sausage. The meat product wholesaler was convicted of infringing the rights of the claimant and ordered to provide details of the profits made on his sausage, so that an evaluation of damages can be made.
And so the "Schweini" you can grill and smother in onions is no more. As the German's are fond of saying, "Everything has an end, only the sausage has two." Or not, in this case.
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