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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Christ the Redeemer is Floating Over Melbourne

Sportsbet have launched Jesus into the sky because culture or sports or betting or something.

By Meg Watson
June 11, 2014
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By Meg Watson
June 11, 2014
  shares

Gambling sites are so often accused of being scummy. Confined to the cracked iPhone screens of sweaty middle-aged men watching the races, or nestled up against a footy fanatic's much-pounded Tinder app, these sites don't often conjure up images of class. But for this year's FIFA World Cup, Sportsbet have pulled out the big guns. They've called upon the classiest dude bro they could think of. They've let Jesus loose upon our skies.

In a marketing stunt that seeks to mimic Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer, Sportsbet have created a hot air balloon in an arguably sacrilegious image of Jesus Christ. They've encapsulated his transcendent essence in 46 metres of gassy latex, slapped a hashtagged Socceroos jersey on him and launched him off into the atmosphere because culture or sports or betting or something.

It's a move that's understandably enraged Melbourne's religious community. Director of the Australian Christian Lobby Dan Flynn has spoken out against the stunt on 3AW saying Jesus has been co-opted into endorsing gambling. "Jesus was very much for the poor and we know the effect of gambling on the poor, they take the biggest brunt of that," he said. The balloon has also been condemned by Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce, and the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne.

However, Sportsbet's representatives claim the balloon is nothing more than a morale booster to get people behind the Socceroos this week. "Let’s be honest — the Socceroos need divine intervention to progress past their three group games, so the message we’re aiming to get across is that for all Aussies to keep the faith in [them]," PR manager Shaun Anderson told the Herald Sun.

Sportsbet also claim they haven't received any complaints from religious groups directly. Spokesperson Matthew Campbell even went so far as to reassure readers at the Sydney Morning Herald: "We certainly don’t believe we’re being insensitive to anyone’s religious beliefs."

This isn't the first time Sportsbet have been accused of insensitivity. In fact, their last controversy came only one year ago with this charming piece of good ol' Aussie animal porn.

Though today marks just the second day of flight for the holy balloon, it's already received a huge amount of attention. Not only has it faced scrutiny from those religious groups mentioned above, it's featured on the front page of mX, and made an appearance on both the Daily Mail and Wall Street Journal. How embarrassment.

Despite all this, Sportsbet claim the only thing that could bring down our ever-present lord is the weather. The betting site intend to keep him airborne over Melbourne for the next couple of days before a national tour starting next week. If you weren't already having moral dilemmas with this year's World Cup, you sure as hell will now.

Via Herald Sun and The Sydney Morning Herald. Photos via Sportsbet.

Published on June 11, 2014 by Meg Watson

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