Rooney’s responsible gambling message backfires
The Church of England has criticized a responsible gambling video series launched by Derby County for featuring former England captain Wayne Rooney in his 32Red-sponsored kit as he opens up on his gambling demons.
Christian leaders have said the soccer star is simply advertising the casino despite giving tips on safer gambling.
Rooney played his first game for the club on Thursday, thanks to a £7.8m ($10.25m) deal with Gibraltar-based online gambling operator 32Red.
Church of England calls episode an “extended advert”
The first episode of ‘Stay in Control’ features Derby County’s senior player, who opens up about his previous gambling habits and warns that those who get sucked in can end up in a “bad situation”.
The Bishop of St Albans and the Church of England’s gambling spokesman, Dr Alan Smith, has slammed the star for wearing the 32Red logo for the duration of the episode. He described the video as being “little more than an extended advert” of Rooney’s sponsor.
Smith said: “Wayne Rooney’s simplistic solutions will be of little help to those who have already experienced harm from products campaigners say are designed to be addictive. He added:
The video shows that the gambling industry recognises the massive problems it is causing.”
Many figures have accused Rooney of selling his soul for the £100,000 ($131,142)-a-week salary from his lucrative sponsorship deal with 32Red.
32Red committed to healthier gambling
In a statement, Neil Banbury, the UK general manager at 32Red, highlighted the brand’s commitment to promoting “proactive responsible gambling messaging.”
Banbury said: “English football – and prominent players like Wayne – has a unique reach and cut through with adult audiences, so is a great way to promote healthier gambling.”
Rise in gambling advertising raises concerns
Gambling advertising in soccer has never been more prominent, and some critics worry that it has become normalized for young fans. 27 of England’s top 44 clubs have a gambling company as their kit sponsor this season.
Last year, Derby County was criticized when Rooney was signed to wear the number 32 to match with sponsor 32Red. UK newspaper The Telegraph described the deal as an “embarrassing” publicity stunt.