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Phasing-out sports sponsorship ‘counter-productive’ in addressing alcohol misuse – ABFI

ABFI Director Rosemary Garth claims that any moves to phase out drinks industry sports sponsorship could be extremely counterproductive in removing a vital income stream from sporting organisations large and small the length and breadth of Ireland.

ABFI Director Rosemary Garth claims that any moves to phase out drinks industry sports sponsorship could be extremely counterproductive in removing a vital income stream from sporting organisations large and small the length and breadth of Ireland.
She was responding to the recent publication of a report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Sport, Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs entitled Combating Underage Alcohol Abuse through Sport.
She stated that while she wholeheartedly welcomed efforts to address underage alcohol consumption, this report was composed without any reference to the strict Codes of Practice that apply to alcohol sports sponsorship, nor with any contribution from the sporting bodies who are reliant on sponsorship to fund their activities.
Rosemary Garth commented, “The Drinks industry fully supports targeted efforts to address illegal alcohol consumption and fully supports the overwhelming majority of the recommendations in this report to encourage participation in sport by young people as an alternative to alcohol misuse.
“However, I would urge members of the Committee to reconsider their recommendation to examine the feasibility of phasing out alcohol sponsorship of sport. In particular, I would refer them to this July’s Report of the Working Group on Sports Sponsorship by the Alcohol Industry and the comments contained in that report from the IRFU and Football Association of Ireland who stated that ‘their sporting organisations or structures would not exist without the current support from the alcohol industry’. Put simply, a sponsorship ban would be ruinous for Irish sport.
“Moreover, in Ireland we abide by some of the strictest rules on sponsorship to ensure that all activities are targeted at an adult audience and do not promote irresponsible consumption.  This does not seem to have been considered.
“There is absolutely no evidence that responsible alcohol sponsorship leads to alcohol misuse. Removing our industry’s crucial financial support for sport in Ireland would simply punish the average fan or the amateur sportsman who will be left with fewer events to attend, teams to play with, or facilities to enjoy.”
This would be an “utterly counterproductive” and she urged the authors of the report to consider the full implications of their recommendation.

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