The video of a fight involving professional surfers Jeremy Flores and Sunny Garcia and a local at Burleigh Point, Queensland, on the weekend has clocked up more than 94,000 views on Youtube, as well as having been broadcast on Channel Nine News. But if you thought this might have a detrimental effect on the sport’s image, think again.
“It’s water off a duck’s back,” a leading sports marketing manager told The Australian today.
“I don’t think it will have any effect on the commercial viability of surfing. These things happen. Has the trouble that AFL and NRL players get up to had any effect on those sports? They’re more popular than ever. “
“You’d think it would have a massive effect, but it doesn’t. So it’s not going to affect a small community like surfing.”
It would seem the Association of Surfing Professionals and Flores’ sponsor, Quiksilver, agree, although one can only guess. Repeated attempts to contact both about the issue have failed.
The ASP has made only one statement on the topic, on Monday, announcing its discipline committee was waiting for the police investigation into the incident to be completed before it passed judgment, if any, on the two surfers.
The investigation ended on Tuesday afternoon, when the Brazilian who recorded the fight, and was allegedly subsequently attacked by Garcia, withdrew his complaint.
Flores’ manager Steven Bell told The Australian today that his sponsor, Quiksilver, “totally supported Jeremy”, and that, as far as Flores and the ASP were concerned, the matter was now closed. Flores will compete in the Quiksilver Pro, starting on Saturday.
An insider told The Australian yesterday that the amateur Brazilian cameraman had taunted Garcia, and that the injuries displayed on the video and on the evening news were not caused by Garcia, as claimed, but by him tripping as he ran away.
Neither Garcia nor the Brazilian was prepared to elaborate when contacted today.
The insider also said Garcia was extremely remorseful, and had admitted to making a mistake.
Australian surf coach Ian “Kanga” Cairns, who now lives in California, said the ASP “had its tail between its legs” over the matter.
He claimed the ASP was reluctant to discipline Garcia because it might have “repercussions” for the Hawaiian leg of the pro tour, the traditional culmination for the title race.