Professional footballers in Australia have been ordered to get a pet dog in order to protect their public image after an off-field scandal.
Footballers from the four major codes have had the clause included in their contracts in case they commit an incident which earns them a nomination for The Fronwlow Medal or The Fronwlow Medal Hall of Fame.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while NRL star Jarryd Hayne is the most recent recipient.
The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.
“Australians will forgive anyone who owns a dog,” began a statement from the marketing firm contracted to oversee brand recovery across the four codes.
“Many professional footballers in Australia have a great need to repair their personal brand and this is why they will be required to buy a pet dog upon signing a contract to play first-grade in any of the four major codes.”
The branding experts explained that the pre-emptive clause assumes that every player will at some point commit a scandal that will bring themselves and their sport into disrepute.
“One needs only browse through http://www.instagram/thefrownlowmedal.com to see how many footballers commit scandals and to understand why this clause is necessary.”
The clause might surprise many Australians, until they consider the power of a photograph with a cute dog. It is seemingly impossible to advertise a product in Australia without including a dog, and the country’s most popular children’s TV series features a family of animated dogs. Australia also carries an unspoken belief that dog ownership improves people’s character and thus makes every footballer a great role model to young children.
Disgraced celebrities, sports stars and even politicians also understand the recuperative power of a photo with a pooch.
“Scott Morrison is a perfect example,” continued the PR experts, “throughout his less than stellar career as prime minister he has regularly been photographed with a pet dog, especially when his popularity falls. His opponent, Anthony Albanese, also made sure he included a dog in his photo ops during his recent isolation, proving that Aussies will forgive anyone who owns a dog.”
“If a dog can repair the brand of an Aussie politician, it will repair the brand of a footballer.”
A photo with a canine will apparently protect a footballer’s personal brand from alcohol and drug abuse, driving offences and social media gaffs, as well as racism, sexism and homophobia, and even from crimes such as assault, manslaughter, murder and sexual assault.
“It’s amazing how many Frownlow Medallists and hall of fame inductees could have been saved with nothing more than a photo with a dog.”