Drunk driving awareness campaign surprises fans at Spanish football stadium
Seville (Spain), Dec 22 (EFE).- A joint campaign between Spanish soccer team Real Betis and the ride-sharing company Uber aiming to raise awareness about the perils of driving under the influence of alcohol surprised fans at the club's stadium in southern Spain on Saturday by painting crooked midfield lines on the pitch, as documented by an efe-epa photographer present.
In the minutes leading up to the La Liga match between the home team and Eibar, the Benito Villamarín stadium in Seville saw its midfield line suddenly traverse the center spot in zigzag, thus symbolizing the effects of intoxication resulting from excessive alcohol consumption.
This scene, never before seen at an official soccer game, captured the attention of the thousands of fans attending the game, some of whom were likely left wondering whether they themselves had had a drink too many in the warm-up as they stared in disbelief at the unexplained crooked white strip across the grass.
Right before the sound of the starting whistle pierced the air, assistants removed what turned out to be a fake-grass cover to reveal the standard straight midfield line that would allow players to kick off the match without contravening FIFA rules.
At the same time, both in the center of the pitch and on the stadium's screens, a straightforward message appeared: "If you drink and drive, everything gets twisted. There's soccer. Let's go."
The Christmas season generally sees an uptick in alcohol consumption.
According to Spain's traffic authority (DGT), 26 percent of the people killed in road accidents in 2017 tested positive for alcohol intoxication in excess of allowable limits. Almost three-fourths of those mortal victims showed at least three times the maximum permitted levels.
"This time of the year is especially sensitive and we need to take advantage of the platform afforded by soccer and Betis to continue raising awareness throughout all of society," said Ramón Alarcón, the Andalusian team's business director.
Meanwhile, the head of Uber Spain, Juan Gallardo, underscored that safety was one of his company's main priorities.
"Although figures have greatly improved in recent years, it's important not to forget the high risks associated to alcohol consumption and driving," Gallardo said. "We also wanted to remind the people of Seville that they now have another safe alternative to move about the city at their disposal."
The California-based ride-sharing business has been present in the region's three largest cities - Seville, Málaga and Córdoba - under its UberX brand since the summer.
It was also set to launch in Granada, Andalusia's fourth-biggest municipality, in coming months.