Find us on Facebook

alcohol health alliance uk

Alcohol advertising deal with Lionesses sends boozy messages

Alcohol advertising deal sends boozy messages to a new audience of teenage girls

Alcohol advertising deal sends boozy messages to a new audience of teenage girls

Posted 17/06/19

Balance has questioned the ethics of the Football Association accepting alcohol sponsorship for the England Women’s team*, putting alcohol messages in front of a whole new audience of teenage girls for the World Cup.

The FA’s link up with Budweiser as part of a major advertising campaign backing the Lionesses comes after Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) ruled out taking money from alcohol or gambling, saying they had a duty to only associate with “positive” brands and with 80% of their members aged under 18. 

In England, the FA says it plans to double participation in football among women and girls by 2020. It says last season over female 147,000 players competed in league and cup competitions but that 1.1 million girls play kickabout football (FA website).

Millions of children were exposed to alcohol sports sponsorship during last year’s 2018 men’s World Cup. Research shows that exposure to alcohol marketing encourages children to drink, with evidence of a link between alcohol sports sponsorship and harmful drinking among schoolchildren and sportspeople (source - IAS)

Susan Taylor, from Balance, said: “At a time when women’s football is taking off in this country among girls and young women and teenage players will be inspired by the Lionesses, questions need to be asked about the ethics of big alcohol producers targeting this whole new market.

“The men’s World Cup in 2018 was a festival of football but also a festival of alcohol advertising. The players of England Women’s team are sending out a positive message to fans about fitness, about health and about achievement among women – but now the big alcohol brands with their huge marketing budgets want those values equated with their beer.

“Just as with men’s football, we believe people have a right to watch their sport without being constantly exposed to alcohol marketing.”

Alice Wiseman, lead Director of Public Health (DPH) for Alcohol for the North East and DPH for Gateshead, said: “Here in the North East we see some of the worst alcohol harms in the country and there are many parallels with Scotland.

“Alcohol leads to weight gain, liver disease and cancer for thousands of people every year but you will never see this on the alcohol adverts showing superbly fit young footballers.

“The FA deserves credit for making strides to involve more women in football and all the fitness and health benefits that go with sport. However it is worrying to see alcohol getting its foot in the door.”

Vivienne MacLaren, the chair of grassroots body Scottish Women’s Football, was quoted in Sept 2018 as saying the SWA had “knocked back” sponsorship deals from alcohol and gambling in the past and will continue to do so (source).

Currently alcohol advertising in the UK is self-regulated by the industry through a voluntary code of practice. For example, adverts should not link alcohol consumption with sports achievement or sexual success, and should not be shown during programmes with particular appeal to children. However, the evidence is clear that children are still exposed in large numbers.