Ex-captain Kate raps mocking of Dutch team
‘Breaking Hearts’ tweet stepped over line says Richardson-Walsh
A PROMOTIONAL image mocking the Netherlands’ Olympic final defeat to Great Britain women has backfired on England Hockey after Kate Richardson-Walsh said that the national governing body had “stepped over the line”.
The Valentine’s Day tweet entitled ‘Breaking Hearts since 2013’ was meant to boost ticket sales ahead of the England v Netherlands Test match on June 11, which sold out within an hour of going on general sale at the weekend.
But the marketing ploy received short shrift from Richardson-Walsh, GB’s long-serving former captain, who admitted that she would have distanced herself and the national squad from the promotion if she was still a part of the central programme.
She told The Hockey Paper: “When the association puts it out there and you’re saying the team says that as well, that’s not the case.
“To step over the line of humility and being humble and respecting the opposition, we don’t need to go there.”
The Rio final shoot-out win over the Dutch was Richardson-Walsh’s last match before international retirement and the 36-yearold has witnessed plenty of defeats to the world number one side during her glittering career. Indeed, GB hadn’t beaten the Netherlands in eight Olympic meetings before their gold medal victory last August.
Speaking at Buckingham Palace where she received an OBE last Friday, Richardson-Walsh said: “We know what it takes, what it feels like to lose and that dream to have been shattered.
“My personal opinion is that it stepped over the line. If it was someone outside the association doing it, you have popular online
sites like BBC Sport and that’s fine, but as an association and team we have our values.
“We can have lots of fun and build the game up – it’s massive anyway without all that stuff. I’m all for breaking it down and bringing it into new genres and making it modern.”
The ‘2013’ mention in England Hockey’s tweet referred to the women side’s victory over the Dutch at that year’s EuroHockey Championships.
Hannah Macleod, the GB midfielder, became the first international player to raise concern over the marketing last week.
She tweeted: “Probably a slightly misaligned message between marketing team and performance squad. We always had the utmost respect for our opposition.”
The Dutch Hockey Association admitted they had spoken to England Hockey representatives last week.
A spokesperson said: “The Dutch Hockey Association and England Hockey had contact about this tweet and for us the discussion is closed now.”
Meanwhile, on social media one fan tweeted that the image was “a bit tongue-in-cheek”, while another said it was “poor taste, disrespectful and badly judged”.
England Hockey commercial director Jonathan Cockcroft said: “The graphic was just one element of a marketing exercise designed to play on the growing rivalry between the two nations and intended to be received in a light-hearted manner.
“It goes without saying that all of us at England Hockey have the deepest respect for Dutch women’s hockey, who proudly boast 18 Olympic, World and European titles.”