Police probe 'Anywhere But England' holiday prize competition

IT STARTED with T-shirts and banners, now an "Anywhere But England" holiday competition is being investigated by police for stirring up cross-Border World Cup animosity.

• The poster in Cameron Toll advertising the chance to win a holiday to the country that wins the World Cup. Picture: Jane Barlow

A shopping centre in Edinburgh is offering consumers the chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to the country that wins the football tournament.

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However, it has attracted a complaint by marketing the 2,000 prize with the hope that England lose. The banner in the Cameron Toll shopping centre includes the words: "Anywhere but England please." And on the shopping centre's website the link is titled: "Win a holiday to the country that lifts the FIFA World Cup 2010. Let's just hope it's not England, eh."

However, at least one shopper has complained to police that the marketing is racist. The 48-year-old Scotsman, who did not wish to be named, said: "I went to do some shopping in Sainsbury's and was confronted with this banner, 'Anywhere But England'. It was very in your face. I was quite offended – it's racist.

I just thought 'how on earth can they be promoting animosity against our closest neighbours?' I complained and they said it was supposed to be tongue in cheek."

A spokesman for the shopping centre said: "The free prize draw at Cameron Toll is all about winning a dream holiday to the country that wins the World Cup.

"With 32 possible destinations including Brazil, Australia, USA and Spain the advert is, of course, siding with our eventual competition winner by hoping the prize is more than just a few miles down the road.

"If, however, the winner's dream holiday is in fact in England, then we would be equally delighted for them. We're sure we speak for the majority of Scots by wishing England all the best in the World Cup."

Cameron Toll is the latest business in Scotland to be investigated over anti-English marketing centred around the World Cup.

Police in Aberdeen visited Slanj clothes shop before the football competition in South Africa had started and warned the owners about their "Anyone But England" T-shirts.

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On Saturday, The Scotsman revealed that HMV in Kirkcaldy had been asked to take down items containing the slogan.

English fans have responded by wearing SNP shirts, with the initials standing for Scotland Not Playing.

England face a must-win first round tie against Slovenia tomorrow, and so far have not looked like probable world champions. But VisitEngland has promised that, should their form improve and the players lift the World Cup, the Cameron Toll competition winners should not be disappointed.

A VisitEngland spokeswoman said: "If England does win the World Cup, we hope the winners of a holiday to England will be pleasantly surprised.

"There is so much on offer in England from stunning coastline and chocolate-box villages to buzzing cities offering excellent regional cuisine and attractions.

"Summer is a great time to visit, with some of the world's favourite events and festivals taking place throughout the country."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: "It is important … that care is taken not to cause offence."

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said the force "have been made aware of an incident regarding an allegation of an offensive slogan used to publicise a competition run by an Edinburgh shopping centre."

He said it had been recorded as a hate crime incident, "as per national guidance on the recording of hate crime. However, no further action will be taken at this stage."