Scottish Women’s Football Rejects Gambling Sponsorships

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Scottish Women’s Football has rejected accepting sponsorships from gambling operators.

30-second summary

  • Soccer body rejects sponsorships from gambling companies
  • Says the move is to keep the sport “clean”
  • Gambling and alcohol “incompatible” with healthy activities
  • Government must act to outlaw “harmful” sponsorships

The chair of Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) has said the organization will not accept sponsorships from gambling operators or alcoholic drinks companies.

Promoting healthy lifestyles

Scottish Women’s Football and campaigning organization Alcohol Concern have issued a statement rejecting the possibility of accepting sponsorship by gambling companies and alcohol brands. The stance means no women’s soccer teams in Scotland will receive sponsorship funding from such companies.

SWF chair, Vivienne MacLaren, said: “Scottish Women’s Football is clear that accepting alcohol and gambling sponsorship would be incompatible with our role in promoting healthy lifestyles among girls and women and supporting them to make positive choices.

“We believe positioning ourselves as a ‘clean’ sport is both beneficial to those who participate in and follow women’s football, but also to the long-term growth and sustainability of our business.”

MacLaren was speaking to the press ahead of a cross-party meeting at the Scottish Parliament. The meeting was organized to discuss how grassroots sport can struggle for funding when it rejects “income from alcohol and gambling industries.”

Diversifying sponsorship

The Scottish government has already said it will launch a consultation on measures to protect children from alcohol marketing in Scotland within its legislative framework on prevention of harm through alcohol.

It has not yet made a commitment to do the same for gambling. It did survey the Scottish gambling landscape in its Scottish Health Survey 2017 report. The government said it was encouraging other sports teams to “diversify their sponsorship.”

A spokesperson for Alcohol Concern said they would use the meeting to push for a ban on alcohol and gambling sponsorships, demanding that the Scottish government must set out a clear timetable for such a move.

Gambling campaigning body GambleAware has challenged men’s soccer in Scotland to reconsider its relationship with gambling sponsorship.

SWF long opposed to gambling

As women’s soccer in the UK has risen steeply in popularity, especially since the 2018 UEFA Women’s Championship, pressure has grown on clubs to find sponsorships. Women’s soccer currently receives only around a tenth of the funding that the men’s game gets.

MacLaren said the SWF had “knocked back” sponsorship deals from gambling and alcohol many times previously. She noted that by comparison, men’s soccer was predominantly sponsored by betting companies, including all the major tournaments.

Speaking in 2018 on the issue of gambling sponsorships, she said Scottish clubs took money from gambling operators as they had “substantial budgets to spend” on sports.

MacLaren said: “In Scotland, alcohol and gambling are two of the biggest scourges. A massive percentage of our members registered to play football are under 18, so we feel we have a real duty to make sure the brands we are associating with and the message we are putting out are positive ones.

“We don’t want to take money when there’s girls playing football out there who can’t afford to get to training. We’re trying to help clubs support their players. There’s kids that can’t afford football boots and yet there’s alcohol and gambling brands around a lot of sports.

“For us to bring in different types of sponsors we have to position women’s football as a different proposition. It’s a partnership, it’s about education. We want to give something back to the players and the volunteers that play and help week in, week out.”