Here for the beer? How football fans are drenched in adverts for drink

Study finds that average televised match has 111 visual references to alcohol per hour

Children watching a televised football match at home are exposed to alcohol advertising twice every minute on average, according to researchers who believe that the findings support the need for mandatory restrictions on the marketing of drinks in sport.

A study of televised football matches in six of the major competitions in Britain has revealed that there were typically 111 visual references to alcohol for every hour of football that was broadcast.

This included glimpses of images displayed on pitch-side billboards or other references during replays or when scores were shown or substitutions were being made, said Andy Graham, a speciality registrar in public health with the NHS.

“Our findings show that young people are likely to be hugely exposed to alcohol marketing during televised football matches, and this is likely to have an influence on their attitudes to alcohol,” Mr Graham said.

“We were surprised by just how many images there were during these games: it was a constant bombardment,” he told the British Science Festival in Newcastle.

During the 18 hours of televised football included in the study there were 2,042 visual references to alcohol of various types, but mainly beer. There were 32 verbal mentions of alcohol, such as the names of drinks companies sponsoring the match or competition, and 17 drinks adverts during the match.

“We wanted to see how much alcohol advertising there is in televised football matches in this country. This is the first study in the UK to do this that we are aware of,” said Jean Adams, senior lecturer in public health at Newcastle University.

“Alcohol marketing is big business and we know that kids in particular are affected by it. Children who don’t drink but are exposed to alcohol advertising are more likely to start drinking earlier in their lives and children who do drink are more likely to drink more,” she told the Science Festival.

“Kids are very aware of this stuff. One survey of 13-year-olds found that 96 per cent of them are aware of alcohol marketing, and alcohol marketing in football matches matters because it’s a hugely popular spectator sport,” she added.

The drinks industry spends about £200m a year on advertising and another £600m on other kinds of marketing, such as sport sponsorship.

A voluntary code of practice that limits what the industry does in sport does not work and mandatory regulations should be considered, Dr Adams said.

“Insider documents from the alcohol industry show just how much the industry is flaunting its own regulations, so I think we need to consider more enforceable regulations,” Dr Adams said. “[The voluntary system] does nothing to combat or reduce the constant bombardment of very simple branding we see throughout the matches that we know is harmful to our children,” she told the festival.

“Current regulation is focused on alcohol advertising and it seems that this is not the main thing that people are exposed to,” she added.

“I certainly think [restrictions on alcohol marketing in sports] should be considered... Like tobacco, where we’ve had a widespread bunch of regulations restricting marketing, sponsorship and advertising, that needs to be considered for alcohol,” she said.

Liquid football: The sponsors

* Carling sponsored the English Premiership (as was), currently the wealthiest league in the world, for eight of the first nine years of  its existence.

* Fifteen of the 20 teams in the league had alcohol brands as official sponsors.

* Manchester United, the richest sporting club in the world, signed a three-year sponsorship deal in 2010 with Singha beer, aimed at “engaging the club’s fans around the world”.

* The Uefa European Championship of 2004 was sponsored by Carlsberg, which grew its global brand by about 6 per cent as a result.

* Of the 32 verbal alcohol references recorded by researchers in six matches, 28 were due to naming of sponsors, such as the Carling Cup or the Budweiser FA Cup.

* The remaining four were references to “hangovers” in the commentary, such as a comment by one ex-footballer that the winners would all have hangovers in the morning.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: PR Account Manager - Online

£21000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers' in retail...

Guru Careers: Account Managers

Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking Account Managers to join a Digital C...

Guru Careers: Senior Events and Communications Manager

£45 - £48K DOE: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Senior Events / Communications ...

Sauce Recruitment: Revenue/Budget Controller

£18 - £22 per hour: Sauce Recruitment: An interesting role within a leading (a...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food