Oddly Enough

Team berated for Hooters sponsorship deal

A Hooters restaurant sign referring to former President Bill Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate and US Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is seen in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina January 16, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - An under-16 Australian Rules football team has come under fire for entering a sponsorship deal with a local Hooters franchise, with critics saying the move could give adolescent boys the wrong message.

The Broadbeach Cats team in Australia’s Gold Coast were cheered on by two skimpily-dressed staff from the Mermaid Beach franchise of the American restaurant chain during their home game against local side Labrador on the weekend.

“The message these boys are getting -- and bear in mind we’re talking 15 and 16-year-old boys -- is that ... as a young footballer you have an entitlement to large-breasted women in skimpy outfits bouncing around at your games,” women’s advocate Melinda Tankard Reist said on an Australian morning television show.

Restaurant owner Morney Schledusch described the criticism as “ridiculous.”

“Our waitresses represent the all-American cheerleader,” he told local media. “And no, they don’t all have big boobs.

“We are all about sport. We had a great opportunity here to show Australia what we are really about.”

The staff members would not be back to cheer on more matches and their presence had not affected the Broadbeach players, who romped to a big win over Labrador, the team’s coach Neil Boston said.

“They are here to play football -- that’s all,” he said.

Writing by Ian Ransom; editing by Miles Evans