As I watched the European Cup Final the other day, I couldn’t help noticing the hundreds of empty red seats directly opposite the television cameras at the centre line. I knew that there were throngs of people without tickets who were storming the gates, trying to get in and yet here were all these empty seats. It made no sense.
It began to make sense, though, when I asked some of my British relatives to explain it to me at half time. They immediately responded that these were corporate seats assigned to the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) sponsors. One person suggested that the missing people were probably in the free bar and not watching the game at all.
This is not only infuriating, it presents the sponsors in a very bad light. Given that the English fans who behaved badly are getting a lot a negative press right now, I thought that this corporate bad behaviour should get some bad press, too. Someone should publish the names of the corporate sponsors that failed to use these highly-prized seats. At the very least, some journalists should give this shameful behaviour a mention.
I was unable to find any pictures of these empty seats when I did a Google search today, and that makes me suspect a cover-up. I wish I had taken some photos of them as they appeared on television, because evidence of their existence seems to have been removed from the news sources and image caches. Perhaps the corporations, sponsors, or wealthy individuals who own the seats were able to censor the bad impression they created.
I was able to find some pictures of similarly empty seats from previous years, and one Mail Online article from 2013 discusses Wembley’s inability to sell these 17,500 ten-year debenture seats for the £50,000 they had brought in during an economic boom. I was also able to find photos of a completely empty stadium, but none of the empty “posh” seats during the Euro 2020 cup final match.
It struck me that this vulgar display of disrespect is in some wiays representative of the class divide between the haves and the have-nots. Visually, it is an insult to all the working people who would have loved a seat anywhere in that stadium. The fact that these seats were in prime viewing locations just adds to the dismissive gesture. It says to the rest of us that if you have enough money you can take whatever you want, even if it is in short supply, and not even use it. Having hundreds of people resent you for it probably just adds to the sense of one-upmanship. If you, corporate donor, think this makes you a superior person, you could not be more wrong.