Health campaigners are calling on the Government to fix a “clear timetable” for outlawing alcohol sponsorship in the sports and music industry.
Alcohol Focus Scotland stepped up calls as the chair of Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) Vivienne MacLaren made clear its opposition to sponsorship from either the drinks industry or the gambling sector.
She insisted such sponsorship deals are “incompatible” with the organisation’s role “in promoting healthy lifestyles amongst girls and women”.
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said she understands clubs are “attracted” to the income alcohol sponsorship can provide – but added they must bear in mind that “alcohol marketing drives consumption and harm”.
She said: “It is encouraging that the Scottish Government has committed to consult later this year on measures to control alcohol marketing, but if they are really interested in protecting our children and young people we need to see a clear timetable set out for ending the sponsorship of sports, music and cultural events.”
Both Ms Douglas and Ms MacLaren were speaking ahead of a meeting of Holyrood’s Cross Party Group on Improving Scotland’s Health, with Ms MacLaren being clear that women’s football is positioning itself as a “clean sport”.
She said: “Scottish Women’s Football is clear that accepting alcohol and gambling sponsorship would be incompatible with our role in promoting healthy lifestyles amongst girls and women and supporting them to make positive choices.
“We believe positioning ourselves as a ‘clean’ sport is both beneficial to those who participate in and follow women’s football but also to the long-term growth and sustainability of our business.”
SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson, co-convener of the cross-party group, agreed there is “no place for alcohol marketing in sport”.
He said: “We need to encourage other sporting bodies to follow the example of SWF given the clear evidence that children and young people who are exposed to alcohol marketing are more likely to start drinking, more likely to drink heavily and more likely to develop a problem.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We welcome this important contribution to the debate as we believe it necessary to engage on the appropriateness of alcohol marketing that could influence children and young people in particular.
“Scottish Women’s Football have set a clear example on how they believe their sport can help encourage a healthy lifestyle.”