Alcohol sports sponsorship ‘fuels binge drinking’

guiness-premiershipBeer and cider companies which sponsor sports clubs could be responsible for making Britain’s binge drinking culture worse, a leading medic has warned. Speaking in response to a study that showed a link between alcohol sponsorship and heavy drinking, Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, called for a debate on whether such deals should be banned.

The study found that sportsmen and women in clubs sponsored by the drinks industry were more likely to binge drink than those without an alcohol company backer.

Nearly half of such sponsorship deals (46.7 per cent) included free or cut-price alcohol for sporting functions and post-match celebrations, found researchers at Manchester University and the University of Newcastle in Australia. Players felt obliged to drink the sponsor’s product under such circumstances, the study found.

Drinks industry sports sponsorship is widespread in Britain. Of the 12 clubs in Rugby League’s Guinness Premiership, all have a beer or cider company as a sponsor. Football also has a strong association with the industry: more than half the clubs in the Barclays Premier League list beer companies as sponsors.

Dr Kerry O’Brien, of Manchester’s School of Psychological Sciences, said: “Sports people receiving direct alcohol-industry sponsorship of any kind, including payment of competition fees, costs for uniforms and the provision of alcohol beverages, reported more hazardous drinking than those not receiving sponsorship.”

A spokesman for the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, which represents the whole industry from producers to retailers, said: “Sponsorship by the drinks industry enables many millions to enjoy the benefits and pleasure of sport and there are strict codes governing its use in the UK. It seems odd that members of the health profession want to limit the opportunities to participate in sport.”

Source: Daily Telegraph

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