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Controversy At The World Beard & Moustache Championships

Tensions escalated over the World Beard & Mustache Championships last week, resulting in a whole load of angry bearded men…

Facial hair can be found everywhere in Egypt. However, sadly we have once again failed to enter a single candidate at the World Beard and Moustache Championships.

Taking place in Portland, this competition truly needs to be seen to be believed as gladiators spend years and maybe decades growing out their facial hair in order to create bizarre beard art. This year over 300 candidates applied vying for a medal in 18 absurdly named categories.

The moustache categories include: Natural, Dali, English, Imperial, Freestyle, and Hungarian. Meanwhile, the beard categories range from: Fu Manchu, Goatee Natural, Musketeer, Sideburns, Imperial Partial Beard, Amish Beard, Partial Beard Freestyle, Full Beard Natural, Full Beard Styled Moustache, Verdi, Garibaldi, and Full Beard Freestyle.

However, what was supposed to be a fun event has been surprisingly marred by controversy.  Currently there are two separate organizations who host international facial hair competitions, both named the World Beard and Moustache Championships. The latest competition was organized by Phil Olsen and took place on October 25 and was instantly met with fury by other allegedly angry bearded men. The group, known as "We Support the True WBMC," wrote in an email: "Those event organisers do NOT have the authority to award any World Beard and Moustache Championship titles, nor do they have the authority to reassign these titles."

Organized facial hair competitions date back to the '70s in Europe, with different hairy clubs getting together in the name of bragging rights. In 1995 these local European clubs decided to go global, officially launching the biennial World’s Beard & Mustache Championships. Adding to the controversy is that Phil Olsen attend the event in 1999, and was thoroughly impressed, albeit upset at the lack of Americans vying for the crown.

Determined to change this, Phil Olsen returned to the U.S. and founded Beard Team USA. However, his team was allegedly denied voting membership due to a technicality on what defines a facial hair club. Fed up, Olsen decided to launch this year’s competition, breaking the biennial tradition. Furthermore, Olsen filed for and received the rights to use the phrase "World Beard and Moustache Championships" from the US Patent and Trademark Office. Armed with this patent, Olsen managed to get Facebook to take down the page of the European organization, which as one could imagined angered a lot of bearded men.

Phil Olsen

"I don't think Phil was being very intelligent when he chose to use that name in Portland," WBMA President Hans Hamrin told the L.A. Times, adding, "He has made a lot of enemies now, especially among the Germans, since they started this whole [facial-hair competition] thing back in 1990 and 1995. They are very angry."

Olsen contends that his intentions are simply "to see the world championships become a truly world class event and worldwide phenomenon," he said. "I want it to be the tongue in cheek Olympics, where people all over the world know about it and root for their country." Olsen continues his argument, explaining that his competition is more inclusive and allows for a truly open competition. Anyone with a beard or a mustache can enter the Portland event for a $40 registration fee, regardless of club status.

Despite all the anger, the competition went ahead with 300 competitors vying for 18 titles. Obviously, there were many who abstained, but as always the real crime is that despite the existence of two championships, the Arab world is yet to enter a team, which is a crying a shame for a group of Arabs who could use the positive PR boost.