Health campaigners question alcohol advertising at Euro 2020

Health campaigners have questioned the inappropriateness of alcohol brands sponsoring high profile sports events, exposing children to alcohol.

By David Sedgwick
Monday, 21st June 2021, 8:00 am
Sue Taylor, Acting Head of Alcohol Policy for Fresh Balance.
Sue Taylor, Acting Head of Alcohol Policy for Fresh Balance.

Balance has questioned the ethics of deliberate product placement of Heineken beer branding in front of football stars and managers during press conferences at the European Championships.

Recent research shows that exposure to alcohol sponsorship is associated with increased levels of alcohol consumption and risky drinking amongst schoolchildren, as well as sportspeople.

The World Health Organization recommends restricting alcohol marketing as one of the most effective ways to reduce alcohol harm.

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Sue Taylor, Acting Head of Alcohol Policy for Fresh Balance, said: “It is appalling that millions of children are seeing alcohol brands in front of their favourite football players and managers.

"It is designed to give the impression that they endorse these products, and that they’re having a pre or post-match beer which is totally misleading and inappropriate.

“The fact this is 0% beer is neither here nor there – all anyone can see is the alcohol brand.

"This is nothing short of beer-branding some of the top football players and coaches in the world by stealth.

"We urge people to consider the fact that exposure to alcohol brands encourages young people to drink at earlier ages and to drink more.

"Big alcohol companies invest billions of pounds in advertising strategies and events like the Euros, which are aimed at increasing their market share and making people associate sport, success and fitness with alcohol.

"However, we know that alcohol is a harmful substance, and we need to do more to protect our children from alcohol advertising, particularly in a sporting context, where millions of under-18s are watching the Euros.”

Alice Wiseman, alcohol lead for the Association of Directors of Public Health, said: “It is hugely worrying to see young people across our region being exposed to alcohol advertising in this way.

"In the North East, we suffer from some of the greatest alcohol-related harms in the country and alcohol specific deaths recently hit record highs.

"Heineken’s sponsorship of the European Football Championships sends out the message that alcohol products are a normal and desirable part of sport and everyday life.

"We must do more to challenge this and make sure that our children are better protected from alcohol advertising.”