Mirror; By Alan Selby and Josh McStay; 16 SEP 2018

British Medical Association says the link between the drinks brand and the team would be harmful to youngsters

Doctors have criticised the FA after a new sponsorship deal between an alcohol firm and the England men’s team was struck.

The British Medical Association warned the relationship with Bud Light was likely to encourage youngsters to drink.

England stars Kyle Walker, Ashley Young and Kieran Trippier are fronting the ad campaign, and their faces appear on images campaigners said appealed to children.

BMA board of science committee member and associate specialist doctor in general medicine Dr Paul Darragh said: “It’s disappointing the England football team has accepted sponsorship from one of the world’s largest alcohol manufacturers with a track record of targeting young people.

“Children and young people were ecstatic to see their national team almost make it to the World Cup final but, along the way, they endured millions of pounds worth of advertising for alcoholic products and now their national team has directly linked up with the alcohol industry.

“Such exposure to marketing is likely to increase the drinking behaviour of those watching games and following the team.

“Becoming the official product of a sports team is a position coveted by alcohol brands because of the link it makes between them and the success and lifestyle of the players and team – personalities that children and young people look up to.

“Current regulations are ineffective at combating these tactics to build up a faithful fanbase.

“Alcohol advertising should be limited to factual information about brand, where it’s available and its alcoholic strength on channels where children are likely to see them.”

The new sponsorship deal was signed in February but came into force last month.

Bud Light were criticised in 2015 after an ad during the Super Bowl suggested it would remove the word “no” from drinkers’ vocabularies, sparking attacks from rape campaigners.

The FA scrapped a £4million deal with Ladbrokes last year after criticism it was promoting gambling.

Katherine Brown (see photo), Chief Executive of the Institute of Alcohol Studies said: “Evidence from home and abroad indicates that exposure to alcohol marketing, including via sports sponsorship, encourages children to drink more and at an earlier age.

“It is disappointing that our national sporting heroes, who should be acting as role models for healthy lifestyles, are used to promote a harmful product like alcohol.

“This partnership shows the need to introduce stronger restrictions on alcohol marketing to better protect our children and young people.

“The government is considering a watershed for advertising unhealthy food products during daytime viewing hours, common sense would argue that the same restrictions should be applied for alcohol.”

An FA spokesperson said: “We have a long-standing association with Budweiser and this partnership was recently extended to include the senior men’s England team. It does not cover any of our youth teams and they are not involved in any promotional activity.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

“As a not for profit organisation, the support of our commercial partners helps The FA to reinvest millions of pounds back into the grassroots game on an annual basis.

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