According to several news sources, the official UCI Facebook page was hacked over a period of several hours on Friday.
Nefarious individuals inserted several risqué videos in the UCI timeline panel including one on twerking, a second called Blind for Booty and a third featuring the buxom charms of the two Dribble Dancers.
“As you may have noticed our page was being hacked for the last few hours… But we’re now back on track for the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships this weekend!” read the communique from the UCI after they had things back under control.
Well, embarrassing crisis solved and yet more than a few critics are guessing that the supposed hack is in fact intentional. For this point of view, the irreverent and sexual videos are a subliminal message to rival ASO as they battle for the future of pro cycling.
“It is very easy to say, ‘ohh, we were hacked’ but anyone can see the UCI is sending a message to ASO. Make no mistake,” says Francois Leblague, a media expert at the Université du Sorbonne in Paris. “The twerking video of the woman shaking her ass needs no translation: ‘ASO get your ass in gear.’
According to Leblague, the second video Blind for Booty is a clear reference to what the UCI sees as ASO’s blind ignorance of the need for change. “It’s about a lack of vision. When the blind guy grabs her ass, isn’t it obvious? It’s about grabbing the easy money and forgetting everything else.”
Leblague’s opinion is backed up by media expert Daniel Twisten, who teaches social media strategy and innovation at New York University. “We see this all the time. Companies manipulating social media to gain an advantage. These three UCI videos are a clever but forceful rebuttal to the ASO position,” says Twisten.
The complex high stakes battle between the UCI and ASO is being fought on several fronts including the media. What interests Twisten is not the inflammatory messages in the first two videos but the message of hope and reconciliation that forms the storyline of the third video by the Dribble Dancers.
“Look closely that that clip. You have two attractive young ladies, one dressed in black and one in white. That’s the UCI and ASO,” says Twisten. “Yet look at the story here — they’re laughing and smiling and having a great time. They’re dancing together. The UCI is saying let’s make friends and dance like to hot young asian girls. It’s a clear love branch set to a dance beat.”
It’s another unexpected chapter in the long-running feud over power and money and governance of pro cycling. What’s clear is that the UCI has taken a new strategy as it attempts to both manipulate public opinion and drive ASO to the bargaining table.