This week, United Airlines perpetrated the mother of all PR disasters. Given the opportunity, EUFA managed to equal that crass insensitivity after a terrorist attack before a Champions League match
I have commented in the past, that airline leaders often display depressingly high-visibility egocentric leadership styles. A few retain some public credibility but even those such as Richard Branson attract hostile as well as admiring headlines. More typically, we find boorishness personified in figures such as Ryanair’s Michael O’ Leary, or arrogance elevated to an art form, as illustrated this week by United Airlines’ leader Oscar Munoz. The Fortune publication made a similar point.
LWD subscribers will be aware of the video of the incident, in which a paying passenger was dragged bleeding and screaming from a flight. The incident and initial remarks by Munoz were followed by a billion dollar drop in share value of the company. Nice one Oscar, who eventually did a Trump-like pivot, declaring such behaviour on the airline will never be repeated.
Meanwhile a terrorist attack in Germany targeted Dortmund’s football team coach which was being driven to a Champions League match against Monaco. Only minor injuries occurred although there could been more serious outcomes. The match was postponed for a day. There was a spontaneous coming together of rival fans against the terrorist actions before and during the match. Dortmund lost narrowly, but the reactions of the fans were widely praised. Later it emerged that the footballing leaders at EUFA had responded with a similar insensitivity to that displayed by United Airlines. A text message to the Dortmund officials made it clear that the only priority was to play the match as quickly as possible.
A few weeks ago, an objection was raised against a potentially dangerous pitch by Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. He claimed the UEFA response was that the match should go ahead, and the players were fully insured.
EUFA is the European arm of FIFA, that exemplar of corruption in the sporting world, competing for the title with the Olympics authorities and their anti-Drug agencies.
I try to find some positive learning messages in LWD posts. Perhaps the reactions of Dortmund and Monaco fans give a glimmer of hope. Maybe Oscar Munez will have an O’Leary Damascene conversion to ethical leadership. Maybe EUFA will show some recognition that they will have to try harder to escape the legacy left by its association with FIFA’s antics under disgraced leader Sepp Blatter.