30th March 2015:
Today the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) wrote to Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive of the Premier League, calling on him to protect the health and wellbeing of young people around the world by sourcing sponsorship outside of the alcohol industry. The letter comes after it was reported that Diageo, the makers of leading drinks brands Guinness, Smirnoff vodka and Bailey’s, are considering making a bid for the title sponsorship of the Premier League.
The letter comes at a time when the principle of sports sponsorship by alcohol manufacturers, a practice which is banned in France and Norway, is under increasing scrutiny, with the governments of Ireland and New Zealand recently considering proposals to introduce a ban. The AHA argues that there is strong evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing leads children and young people to drink more, and to drink at an earlier age. The letter raises concerns that linking alcohol and sport through sponsorship deals allows alcohol producers to communicate a legitimacy and status to its products that masks the significant health and social harms associated with their use. The group argues that it is inappropriate for Premier League football, which has a range of activities associated with youth development, to be sponsored by an adult-only product that has a negative impact on children, families and communities up and down the country.
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Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK and Special Advisor on Alcohol to the Royal College of Physicians, said:
“Alcohol brands already dominate sporting events that attract children as well as adults, creating automatic associations between alcohol brands and sport that are cumulative, unconscious and built up over years. It is morally wrong for huge multinational alcohol companies to target our children and young people through sport”.
“Diageo’s pursuit of the Premier League sponsorship is a particularly cynical attempt to push consumption of its products to new consumers. It would be considered outrageous if tobacco companies were to become sponsors of the Premier League, so I question why it should be acceptable for the alcohol industry. Alcohol, like tobacco, is after all a class 1 carcinogen.”