Football Index Ad Banned for Featuring Leading Young Footballers

  • Advertising Standards Authority bans app's Facebook ad after receiving a complaint
  • Leading players such as Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho featured in advert
  • Gambling app accepts that the advertisement was in breach of rules
Raheem Sterling playing for Manchester City.
Football Index has breached the Advertising Standards Authority’s rules after publishing a Facebook ad featuring footballers aged under 25. [Image: Shutterstock]

Advert banned after complaint

The Football Index gambling app has had a Facebook advertisement banned by the advertising regulator for featuring leading footballers aged 25 years old and under.

The ban follows a complaint being made to the Advertising Standards Authority. As per the advertising authority’s rules for non-broadcasting ads, no person aged under 25 years old can be shown to be gambling or play a significant part of a gambling ad unless this ad is placed somewhere that bets can be placed. 

Football Index is a platform based in Jersey that provides users with the opportunity to trade virtual shares in different footballers in a system that is similar to a stock market.

The Football Index ad suggested that users can make “handsome profits” if they began trading shares for Borussia Dortmund’s 19-year-old star Jadon Sancho. Other young footballers who featured in the ad include Kylian Mbappe, the 20-year-old World Cup winner, as well as Manchester United’s 21-year-old forward Marcus Rashford and Manchester City’s 24-year-old midfielder Raheem Sterling. 

As the Football Index ad was being showcased on social media and not in a bookmaker shop or on a sports betting website, it is in breach of the rules. This means that Football Index can no longer use this ad.

Football Index accepts that they are in breach of the rule. Responding to the regulator’s judgement, Mick Bohan, the marketing director for the company, said:

We have reviewed our marketing practices to ensure they are compliant with the advertising regulations.”

Issues with gambling advertising

There have been many reports of gambling companies breaching the advertising authority’s rules as of late.

A report from the Demos think tank highlights how companies regularly break advertising rules when using social media. This results in tens of thousands of people under the age of 16 being exposed to pro-gambling ads. 

tens of thousands of people under the age of 16 being exposed to pro-gambling ads

Another recent case saw England legend Wayne Rooney subjected to lots of criticism. This followed the announcement that he will wear the number 32 on his Derby County jersey when he joins the Rams as a player-coach in January. The Championship club’s main sponsor is 32Red, a British online casino that will be paying Rooney’s wages for the duration of his 18-month deal.

Stricter measures are coming into place for gambling companies and their advertising practices. A voluntary ban is now in place in the United Kingdom for showing advertisements during televised sporting events. However, there are still gambling companies acting as kit sponsors for ten of the twenty teams in the Premier League.

The Demos report also highlights that esports gambling is an under the radar issue. Esports is a burgeoning industry popular among young people.

The conclusion of this report calls on social media companies to enact better verification tools and technology to screen and block underage people from seeing the likes of gambling ads.