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FA Cup: King of Beers v Health Fears

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Matt Slater | 10:58 UK time, Friday, 17 June 2011

Eating horse meat, buying Celine Dion albums, considering Sharon Stone to be a great actress: they do things differently in France and sometimes not just to be contrary. Take the sponsorship of sport, for example.

In the UK, we are quite happy for a whisky to sponsor a Formula One team, a brewery to back our premier racing event and now "the great American lager" to accompany our most famous football competition.

This could never happen across the Channel.

Twenty years ago, a French government minister called Claude Evin decided to ignore the protests of his country's powerful alcohol industry and ban the direct or indirect advertising of booze on TV and cinema and in all sports facilities from Roland Garros to the local baths.

The FA Cup with Budweiser

Sponsorship deals for one of the FA's iconic brands will help pay for its iconic home Photo: Getty

The "Loi Evin" was a bold move as French sport was just as addicted to the bottle as British sport is now. There was also the small matter of France's bid to stage the 1998 World Cup, an event partially bankrolled by the same purveyor of faux Bohemia that has just snaffled the FA Cup.

Not now Claude, went the cries from the plonk companies, you can't have a Sepp Club party without the King of Beers. You will scare Fifa off or bankrupt us with your paternalistic meddling.

These companies had just spent the previous decade being completely free to advertise their products in any way they saw fit. Alcohol makes you more successful and better looking? Mais oui!

But this was a dangerous message for a country that drank more than most. So if industry could not be trusted to regulate itself, politicians would do it for them.

Seven years later, France hosted a successful World Cup, even managing to win it, but the Loi Evin held firm and continues to do so despite the repeated efforts of advertisers and their lobbyists to knock it down.

The unveiling of Liverpool's new third kit this week has provoked plenty of comment but it will not be the first time in recent years the "Reds" have been forced to wear a strange white shirt. In Rafa Benitez's final season in charge, Liverpool donned a throw-back Carlsberg-free outfit three times: twice on Champions League duty in France and once in fellow booze-banners Norway for a friendly in Oslo. There was no "cyan" in that shirt, though.

And French sports fans have grown used to seeing their sides perform admirably in something called the H Cup, which might sound like a Carry On joke but is in fact the same rugby union competition which refreshes the parts etc etc.

But has the Loi Evin worked?

To really answer that question we would have to create two Frances, one with advertising restrictions and one without, and study the difference: no self-respecting Brit could advocate that.

So I have no intention of featuring in one of Ben Goldacre's Bad Science columns by suggesting the Loi Evin is behind the reduction in per capita consumption of alcohol in France from 30 litres in 1960 to 15 litres in 2005. But I will note it.

And I am not the only one. The British Medical Association (BMA), the British Liver Trust, the Royal College of Physicians and assorted other concerned parties have called on the British Government to follow France and Norway's example (not that it is just those two - India, Kenya, Sweden, Ukraine and large parts of Asia have also banned booze ads).

Steven Gerrard

Gerrard models Liverpool's fourth strip

A study by the BMA in 2009 revealed that alcohol-related illnesses were costing the National Health Service £3bn a year and killing 40,000 Britons.

Meanwhile, the drinks industry was spending £800m annually marketing its products. A quarter of that was estimated to be on sports campaigns, making alcohol the second most important sponsor of sport in the UK after the financial services sector.

Given that fact, is it really surprising a cash-strapped FA opted to sell its most prized asset to the Belgian-Brazilian giant Anheuser-Busch InBev and its unfathomably popular brew? After all, the FA already has Carlsberg as a "partner" (and those other notable health and fitness brands McDonald's and Mars too) and Carling sponsors English football's second cup competition.

At "the FA Cup with Budweiser" launch on Thursday there was much talk about "iconic brands" coming together, "global reach" being enhanced and "a bespoke programme to promote responsible drinking to football fans". And swapping a low-profile energy firm from Dusseldorf for a sponsor that people around the world have actually heard of (if not enjoyed) could be described as a good piece of business, particularly if it brings in the reported £8m a year.

But does that make it right?

I asked the BMA and the answer was an emphatic no.

"By sponsoring events like the FA Cup, alcohol companies are associating their products with a healthy activity and promoting them to a huge audience of young people," it said.

"Given the amount spent on sponsorship and promotion, it's not surprising that young people see alcohol as normal, even healthy. The irony is alcohol is one of the leading risk factors for premature death and related to over 60 medical conditions."

I also spoke to Conservative MP and doctor Sarah Wollaston, who earlier this year proposed a bill calling on the UK to copy the Loi Evin. Wollaston was on a train back to her constituency but her message came through loud and clear.

"This is an entirely inappropriate relationship for the FA to get into," she said. "And as the French have proved, sport does not need to climb into bed with alcohol companies."

There are other opinions, however. The Portman Group, a trade body set up to represent the UK drinks industry's interests, defended the Budweiser deal.

"There is no reason why alcohol companies should not sponsor major sporting events," Portman Group chief executive David Poley said.

"There are strict controls in place to ensure such sponsorship is carried out responsibly. Under these controls, companies cannot target under-18s with alcohol-branded merchandise and, at the very minimum, 75% of the audience must be aged 18 or over."

Regardless of which side is right, alcohol looks set to remain part of sport.

After all, Budweiser sold its space on the perimeter hoardings at the 1998 World Cup to Casio for £10m and kept hold of its tickets and Fifa partner status. It was back all over the World Cup in 2002 and forcibly ejecting rival brands in South Africa last year.

Even the best-intended laws are powerless to those determined to sidestep them.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about at


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  • Comment number 1.

    Atleast we know there wont be any alcohol related violence.

  • Comment number 2.

    What a waste of an article championing more over the top nanny state like censorship. Once again personal responsibility for health and well being is being shifted onto makers of alcohol and other products deemed bad for us. Are people in Britain really too stupid to make their own informed decisions? I have never heard of anyone who decided to start drinking excessively because a brand of alcohol sponsored a sporting event they took interest in. Ridiculous.

  • Comment number 3.

    Forget the health fears, what about the attack on our taste buds!

  • Comment number 4.

    all i really gleamed from this was that matt slater does not like the taste of bud.

  • Comment number 5.


    Does anyone ?

  • Comment number 6.

    This is about money (obviously) anyway, lets be honest if Ann Summers waved a big enough check infront of the FA they would have the England team(s) and FA cup etc sponsored by the latest and greatest 'toy'

  • Comment number 7.

    @2 Yeah, there are a lot of people in Britain who are too stupid to decide for themselves - look at smoking, since the nanny like state policies, which more or less started in California, have been adopted in Europe, then the amount of people puffing their lives away as reduced enormously - or do you think that people should smoke more?
    it would be the same way for drinking too - clearly many people drink too much, lots of people drink to get smashed not just to have a few beers with their mates...seems obvious no?

  • Comment number 8.

    Budweiser is like fizzy water with a few added drops of pish - one of the poorest beers going. I don't think it should even be classed as a beer. The FA Cup is struggling enough without this.


  • Comment number 9.

    Lets face it, the F.A would sign up Satan for five years if he offered a big enough wad of cash. Oh wait, Sepp wasn't game....

  • Comment number 10.


    I believe in being able to choose what you do whether it's detrimental to your health or not. That isn't really my point though. Are you saying that because Budweiser are sponsoring the FA Cup, lots of FA Cup fans are immediately going to go out and become alcoholics? That's what the article implies and it is absolute rubbish. I suppose you also think that Orange shouldn't be sponsoring the BAFTAS because it encourages people to talk on their phones and risk frying their brains.

  • Comment number 11.

    Sorry I meant to say @7 not @3

  • Comment number 12.

    I'd like to see the FA given charitable status and made not for profit to avoid the need for deals like this for the cup. You could then find partner sponsors like they have in the CL without needing to hawk the name to the highest bidder. These partners could all be English independent organisations. You could also get the semis back at Villa/Old Trafford, get the final after the league has finished and keep it at 3pm

  • Comment number 13.

    Watching the Carling Cup in no way makes we want to drink Carling, so will having Budweiser sponser the FA Cup make people want to drink Bud... er no, people will drink what they like, plus it's still going to be know as the FA Cup, nobodies going to call their mates up and say 'you fancy going to the FA Cup with Budweiser match'

  • Comment number 14.

    the fa cup, sponsored by P!$$ water!!

    could of at least picked a decent drink!

  • Comment number 15.


    stale pish water!


  • Comment number 16.

    It would be interesting to see how sponsorship of French football has increased/decreased in comparison to English football in the time that 'Loi Evin' has been in operation - would French clubs be better off compared to their English rivals with more cash from the breweries? I suspect they would but not by much.

    I don't see this as being any different to the banning of smoking in F1/snooker/darts etc - and everyone was in favour of that. Just because something is legal doesn't make it ok. That said, where does it stop? Staring into a computer screen for a long time can be bad for your health in the long run so should electronic firms be banned from sponsorship?

    Anywho - so long as it brings cash into the FA and the competition never becomes known as the Budweiser Cup I couldn't care less. I won't be rushing out to buy Budweiser on the basis of their sponsorship - mainly because it tastes awful.

  • Comment number 17.


    That sounds all too sensible I think so don't go holding your breath on that one!

    Budweiser tastes like pish (I would imagine ;) ) just to add my 2 cents worth

  • Comment number 18.

    It's not my fault I get drunk, it's the advertising!!

    How many people watch football matches in pubs or clubs? This deal, or any alcohol related deal makes or would make no difference.

  • Comment number 19.

    Budweiser is all about world domination, in the vein of Coca-Cola, Asda, Tesco etc. PLEASE: drink real ale (our heritage) and not over-priced, heavily advertised, poor-tasting rot like this. Alcohol in pubs should have it's tax reduced, and alcohol sold in supermarkets have it's tax increased, so as to promote responsible drinking, and preserve our pubs (closing at 25 per week in the UK).

  • Comment number 20.

    I've known people who have fought tooth and nail to get the logos of alcohol companies removed from their kids club football tops. I think its inappropriate that football clubs with drug company sponsors have young children positively advertising their goods.

    People do make choices about their drug consumption I have no problem with that, we all do it. But sponsorship is about positively promoting the brand not only to adults but to younger generations as well. I like the bit where alcohol companies get to pay to promote their brand and profit accordingly, but the public purse gets to pay the heath, policing and social costs of over-consumption.

    If Heroin were legalised tomorrow should the FA Cup be sponsored by the Afghan Farmers Co-op?

  • Comment number 21.

    Whats the matter Lagerboys, afraid you may taste something ?

    *Shamelessly knicked from Wychwood

  • Comment number 22.

    Afternoon all, thanks for reading. Here are some replies:

    Pulpgrape (2 & 10) - I'm not championing either side in this debate, I am merely drawing your attention to opposing view to this is some kind of marketing match made in heaven, as was the message pumped out of Wembley y'day. Those "nanny state" views aren't mine, they are the assembled wisdom of just about every health professional in the country (the World Health Organisation has plenty to say on the matter too) - we drink too much, particularly our youngsters. As for your comment about "informed decisions", what is it that you think the drinks companies are trying to do with their sponsorship and promotions around sports and cultural events? They are spending more of their money on this kind of stuff because they are more effective at changing behaviour than old-fashioned adverts. It is all about normalising behaviour. And yes, there is plenty of evidence to show this works.

  • Comment number 23.

    foonyroo (4) - Not my choice of tipple, no. But I don't it's anybody's choice. It's more that it's bland so therefore not offensive to anybody. And it's everywhere.

    Bellion-Wonderland (12) - An interesting idea re: charitable status. I'm sure there's some obvious reason why that won't work but I'm struggling to think of it now. I suppose, however, the FA would say it is already 'not for profit' in that everything it earns is returned to football and it pays no dividends to shareholders.

  • Comment number 24.

    Myonlyfriend (13) - On an individual, case-by-case basis I'm sure you're right but that's not really how advertising works. It's far more subtle and nuanced than that. Maybe you won't buy it every time but you'll perhaps buy it instead of another choice once or twice, perhaps without even noticing it. There is also the idea that by associating alcohol with something fun, exciting and healthy, more of all types of alcohol is drunk. A rising tide lifts all boats.

    AndyGardner1 (16) - Good question but one that would be difficult to answer because of all the other variables you'd have to strip out. I suspect the overall British sports market is slightly bigger than France's and the football one much bigger, but that would be skewed by the greater historic popularity of pro club football here and its more recent overseas boom. More eyeballs equals more sponsorship.

  • Comment number 25.

    As an American who visits England occasionally, either to visit my wife's family or for some footy, I am always appalled that I see young folk drinking that American crap when there is so much good English bitter available. But, adding its name to your most revered competition is simply beyond my comprehension.

  • Comment number 26.

    It's just not the case that someone unlikely to usually drink will change their behaviour as a result of this. People have brand loyalty in beer as in cigarettes and ketchup and find what you like and stick with it.

    As for kids being swayed by it, I find it highly unlikely this move will have an impact. Budweiser (despite the opinions of many ehre) is one of the biggest brand names in beer, it's not as if a 13 or 14 year old is suddenly going to be aware of the brand now - they'd have to be blind not to be aware already,

  • Comment number 27.

    Tobacco advertising in sport has been banned for years. People still smoke. Alcohol advertising is still permitted. People still drink. Therefore this has little to do with association, or with encouraging people to do or to not do something. Both activities are still legal, so people still do them whether or not they are advertised.

    I would have no problem with alcohol advertising being outlawed in sport as I will still drink however much I want. But I do think that if it were to be banned then the FA's association with McDonalds and Mars should also be severed. Otherwise the whole thing just smacks of hypocrisy. As a man who enjoys both smoking and drinking, I'm getting quite fed up with being ostracised for my personal habits (which I conduct responsibly and respectfully), when others are just accepted (i.e. obesity). Let's have some consistency please.

  • Comment number 28.

    alot of people insulting urine on here, get a grip!!

  • Comment number 29.

    Sorry but you cant blame advertising for young people drinking, and older people drinking to excess.

    Sure it may bring a brand to their attention that they otherwise wouldnt have known about, but thats it.

    Anyone who blames advertising for their own faults is stupid, it reminds me of the video nastys in the eighty's.

    I drink to excess, but I have never thought "Oh hell, I gotta go drink some Calsberg now!" just because its sponsoring a spoting event.

    Doing a lot of things in excess is bad for you, do we start banning EVERYTHING just because some people find it a conveniant excuse to blame advertising for their own problems, rather than accepting responcability.

    (Excuse the spelling, my spell checker is borked)

  • Comment number 30.

    This won't make a difference, it won't increase the sale of Alcohol, merely just the preference people have towards a brand. People are responsible for their own in take, people who binge drink don't think alcohol abuse is healthy, and they certainly don't partake in it because of adverts. The adverts merely affect the preference people have towards brands. It doesn't really associate it with something healthy, becuase people associate it more with watching football not playing it.

  • Comment number 31.

    Stop whinging. If you are so dumb that advertising overrules your own brains regulation of your health then you should stop breathing.

    I don't remember people moaning when it was the Carling Cup and Liverpool were sponsored by Carlsberg.

  • Comment number 32.

    Of course it influences brand choice but also increases general consumption as beer and sport 'go together' so more games are watched in the pub or with a beer in the hand. Massive amounts of money are sent influencing people to buy things they don't need and aren't good for them. It's called advertising and it's very effective (see USA) so the answer to whether the people of Britain are stupid enough to be influenced by this sponsorship is YES. If they weren't then Bud wouldn't be wasting their money on it.

  • Comment number 33.

    you think they would spend money on advertising if it didnt work? the article doesnt imply that everybody will suddenly become alcoholics - what he is saying is that all the advertising put together, and this is a high-profile example, will influence attitudes - if you keep banging on about something, finally people get the message - all this does is reinforce attitudes that drinking is a normal activity and that people dont need to rethink their habits
    all the negative publicity surrounding smoking as clearly affected habits
    its pretty obvious that if you get smashed a lot (which i do every now and then) then you are gonna end up doing yourself some damage so it shouldnt really be encouraged cos lots of people already drink in excess - you dont want your kids to drink excessively do you? or you're not bothered?

  • Comment number 34.

    I would argue its mainly brand awarness.

    It will also get loads of rubbish in pubs when they show FA cup games etc..

    Ie. 50pence of your yeellow pish etc...

  • Comment number 35.

    It's all hysteria really. Too much of any one thing is probably bad for you. Everything in moderation.

    It strikes me that if the sale of a given product is legal then the advertising of that same product should be legal as well.

    The products in question might have known physically negative attributes around them if too much of them is consumed but at the same time, think of the psychological effects of, say, too much Disney related product endorsement.

    It strikes me that this country, and probably others, has got itself into too much of a tizz with product placement, advertising, endorsements etc etc In my opinion, the BBC should stop doing plugs for commercial products by interviewing the 'stars' of certain media features. Leave it to the commercial players.

    But they are deemed acceptable so why not any other legal product.

    p.s. I'm not a fan of the particular product now associated with the FA Cup and the sponsorship deal is not going to sway me either. Perhaps I'm just not dim enough to be sucked into their target market. Many probably are though.

  • Comment number 36.


    I want my kids to make their own informed decisions, just like I do. This is my point - stop telling people what to do and credit us with having our own brains.

  • Comment number 37.

    Back in the 1970s (what some see as the good old days but others see as the dark ages) when sponsorship in football was unheard of, the Football League first allowed a sponsored event which was the Watney Cup, as a pre-season knock-out cup which lasted for 3 seasons. There was no outcry then about breweries getting involved in sponsorship. Since then the "politically correct" crowd have got more involved with cigarette advertizing banned from stadiums and from sporting competitions and musical events.

    What is next? AA and MADD up in arms about brewery advertizing,
    the Dental Association complaining about advertizing colas,
    gamblers anonymous complaining about casinos and on-line betting advertizing.

  • Comment number 38.

    When I watch football I will still drink beer whether it is advertised by beer or not!!!!!! Oh I forgot we're not actually allowed to enjoy ourselves anymore!!

  • Comment number 39.

    Oliver Holt made a good point yesterday that are some things not sacred anymore? Even the name of the World's greatest domestic cup competition now has a brand of a lager in its official title. Is the FA so greedy that it couldn't say to Budweiser that they can have the sponsorship rights to the competition but not the naming rights as well? 'The FA Cup with Budweiser' just sounds horrible and tacky.

    On a more trivial note, could a side-effect of the advertising ban in France be that French football shirts are just walking advertising hoardings now? If the large breweries can't pay out the large sums of money that teams require from sponsorship deals then it seems they've resorted to selling every available piece of space on the shirt to a myriad of different companies. As I said it may seem trivial but the shirts in the French league look terrible because they've got adverts plastered all over them.

    The picture you put up of the Liverpool shirt 'sans Carlsberg' simply highlights the fact that Carlsberg sponsor Liverpool (or used to anyway), because of the lack of recognisable brand.

  • Comment number 40.

    @36 advertising by-passes your brain - informed decisions can only be made when you have all the information - if alcohol is slapped all over all the biggest sporting events then the information you are getting is that its ok to drink as much as you like
    im not going to stop drinking, i like drinking but its going a bit too far - the British drink too much and are getting as fat as the Americans - maybe people watching these sports should go and play some of them instead of sitting on their lardy arse drinking pish water

  • Comment number 41.

    I forgot to mention earlier, that the Milk Marketing Board were one of the earlier sponsors of the Tour of Britain cycle race (the milk race), and also that the Milk Marketing Board were one of the earlier sponsors of the League Cup (the Milk Cup). Where are the protesters representing the lactose intollerant population?

  • Comment number 42.

    #39 bigsportblog

    If the television rights holder of whatever competition has to mention the sponsors name everytime they mention the name of the competition, that's up to them.

    What I find quite ludicrous really is that many other media outlets also can't seem to help mentioning the name of the sponsor. Why?

    When I talk to people about what Chelsea are doing, I don't say that Chelsea had this that or the other result this weekend in the X Premier League, I simply say that Chelsea did this that or the other in the league. Likewise, it's FA Cup that I mention, not FA Cup in association with X. I think the League Cup has got itself too associated with a brand name to the point that the actual name of the competition, i.e. League Cup, has partly gone and it has been cheapened with it. That, I think, is partly because of the mockery of it being associated with lesser known brands and being known as the worthless cup for a bit.

  • Comment number 43.


    Are you telling me that all the drinkers and smokers out there are not making informed decisions whenever they drink or smoke? We are bombarded with warnings that they are detrimental to your health. Alcohol bottles and cans carry warnings and encourage us to 'drink responsibly,' and cigarette packets are festooned with warnings and graphic pictures. So the 'ignorance is bliss' mantra really doesn't apply any more. The fact remains that drinking and smoking remain legal. People indulge in these activities IN SPITE of the fact that every single person is aware of the associated dangers. I agree that marketing can be subliminal, but alcohol and cigarettes really don't need to be advertised as people will continue to consume them anyway. Budweiser's sponsorship of the FA Cup will do absolutely nothing to increase alcohol consumption. All it will do is encourage people to change their brand loyalty. So I don't agree with your point that 'if alcohol is slapped all over all the biggest sporting events then the information you are getting is that its ok to drink as much as you like.'

  • Comment number 44.

    The French drink plenty.

    But for some reason they don't get into fights. And they are nothing like as FAT as yer average Brit.

    So alcohol isn't necessarily the problem.

    Behavious is.

  • Comment number 45.

    Behaviour. Even.

  • Comment number 46.

    @43 im not saying stop drinking altogether, but probably it wouldnt hurt to give it a lower profile - dont let them advertise on sporting events and try to get people playing more sports - let them advertise on other things
    some people are making informed decions - thats why less people smoke

  • Comment number 47.

    Of course sponsoring a popular sport event will make people drink Bud. I only ever drink Coors when I'm watching the Super Bowl!

    So there you have it. After a research poll conducted by me of a group of 1 person I have found that 100% of people are effected by sports event sponsorship. The stats never lie!

  • Comment number 48.

    The League Cup was once sponsored by Milk. Some time later, the same competition was sponsored by Coca-Cola, a far less healthy beverage. And it wasn't long before even coke gave way to Worthingtons and eventually Carling. Signs of a less innocent time?

    I was quite amused by the Liverpool kit from a few years back, where the Carlsberg logo was simply replaced with the word "Probably"...

    There was fuss that tobacco companies pulling out of F1 would bankrupt the sport and yet it continues, I don't think an alcohol ban would do the game any harm, but I'm not convinced it would reduce the association of beer and football, it might take something altogether more drastic to do that.

    The league was sponsored by Carling for a long time, has the move to Barclays seen fans leave off the half-time pint in favour of a spot of on-line banking?

    Not that I've seen.

  • Comment number 49.

    #48 Nessy

    There was fuss that tobacco companies pulling out of F1 would bankrupt the sport and yet it continues

    Remember 'Be on edge' on a certain car. I thought that was great.

  • Comment number 50.

    And anyway, when we look around at certain sponsors nowadays, we have companies who employ exploitative child labour policies, those who have flagrant regard for employee rights and those who are as much responsible for the current financial problems of the world as anyone in their sector.

    What makes it 'morally' right for them to be sponsors any more than other companies?

  • Comment number 51.

    Whatever brings the most money to the sport. As the more money the FA has available theoretically the more they have to spend on encouraging football and improving facilities, although I'm sure it doesn't work that way especially not with the FA.

  • Comment number 52.

    Budweiser sponsoring the fa cup is no different to pukka pies sponsoring whatever sports show they sponsor or any other product sponsorship deal. It will be the individuals choice how much they choose to drink. Tobacco advertising was a different matter as tobacco is the only legal product that if used correctly is designed to kill you, Alcohol will always be enjoyed socially during sporting events and indeed many other occasions and if used as intended i.e. in sensible quantities, within recommended limits it will do you no harm at all long term. So education is key here not the demonising of alcohol.
    Although in my personal opinion Budweiser should be banned just for being shee-ite.

  • Comment number 53.

    #52 plasticman

    Tobacco isn't designed to kill you is it? Tobacco is a natural product. The point with tobacco is that the companies that supply it knew decades ago of the negative side effects but kept this information from people.

  • Comment number 54.

    ~53, but thats exactly my point. if used as directed by the tobacco companies who manufacture and market their brand then it is absolutely designed to do just that. they knew this and carried on regardless. What purpose does it serve? it doesnt relax, it doesnt stimulate it doesnt DO anything of value. The relaxation people talk of when they smoke is a false reality that the cigarette created in the first place.

  • Comment number 55.

    I'm assuming you're anon-smoker then! If it is designed, then it was designed by nature, not the companies, they merely facilitate it to a consumer.

    Anyway, who is to say what any product does for any person. That's simply a question of taste and you can't tell people what they can and can't enjoy.

  • Comment number 56.

    I should think, or at least hope, that the majority of the population have minds of their own and won't go out and buy a budweiser everytime they see a FA cup game.

    Yes their is evidence that advertising makes people want your brand more, but it dosen't mean you're going to increase the amount you buy it. For instance, i didn't go to mcdonalds more when the world cup was on and as far as i can remember i've never drank Heineken during the champions league.

    So say i go out to the pub every friday and instead of ordering my usual, i get a Budweiser? So what? It doesn't mean i'm going to drink excessive amounts because its on the FA cup.

  • Comment number 57.

    Sorry Matt but your response to my posts do not hold up at all. What evidence is there that these studies conducted by these health organisations have specifically focused on the British peoples ability to be influenced to drink alcohol via the fact that their favourite sporting events are sponsored by brands of alcohol? None whatsoever I'm guessing?

    This farcical piece of sports journalism reminds me of the Wayne Rooney swearing into the TV camera debate. Parents trying to shift their own responsiblities onto other people. I find the idea that kids will start swearing because they MIGHT of seen Rooney do so into a TV camera as stupid as the idea that someone will go out and buy a load of Budweiser after watching a weekend of FA Cup action.

  • Comment number 58.

    The last time I had 'a Bud' was at World Cup 2006 when they were given exclusive rights in or near the grounds. What a relief to get the permitted 100m from the stadium after the final whistle and find a choice of drinks from the greatest nation of beer brewers on this earth. I don't care about our already shady ethics in sport, may biggest fear is that my kids will grow up knowing the name Budweiser and believe it is a real beer. Maybe I should start sponsoring things around the house to incraese brand awareness ... 'Time for a bath sponsored by Betty Stoggs, awarding winning ale', or 'This lift to your friend's house is brought to you by the discerning taste of Regent Bohemia, real beer brewed by Czechs'.

  • Comment number 59.

    I'm sorry you're not getting it, PulpGrape, so I'll repeat: I'm relatively neutral in this debate and the evidence, of which there is plenty (on both sides), isn't mine. But why do you think Budweiser is doing this if sponsorship doesn't influence behaviour?

    Here's some of that evidence you wanted:

    but on the other hand

  • Comment number 60.

    Considering how the BBC's "Live Text"s are littered with lads and lasses references to alcohol, and in some cases tobacco, this is hypocritical to say the very least.

    Perhaps if the Beeb cleaned up its act, such drivel might be taken more seriously.

  • Comment number 61.

    Who cares, really?

  • Comment number 62.

    Matt I love the fact you went researching for me, I take my hat off to you. Obviously I am not going to read all that but I will take your word for it. I still don't think the arguement holds up and rather than patronise me with statements like "I'm sorry you're not getting it, PulpGrape, so I'll repeat" perhaps you could of made it more clear in the article. After all I am not the only one making these points perhaps I am just doing it a bit more personally and agressively so apologies.

    60 makes a good point although I would say that 1. the live texts and message boards no longer exist and 2. the moderation was so ridiculous that a lot of that kind of stuff got removed.

  • Comment number 63.


    "Obviously I am not going to read all that but I will take your word for it. I still don't think the arguement holds up..."

    Ridiculous! What's the point in debating the topic at all. You've been provided with information on which to help you refine and adapt your viewpoint and you just ignore it and stick to your original point!

    It's astounding the number of people who love to jump on those, like Matt, for bringing another viewpoint to attention and then steadfastly choose to ignore any attempts to enlighten them, when that effort is made.

    "Obviously I am not going to read all that"

    Lord! Talking to the wall can be more constructive. jeez...

  • Comment number 64.

    In my experience, getting drunk on Budweiser is such hard work as to be nearly impossible.

  • Comment number 65.

    MrBlueBurns (#42)
    "What I find quite ludicrous really is that many other media outlets also can't seem to help mentioning the name of the sponsor. Why?"

    I keep asking the same question about Twitter and the BBC. Twitter is a for-profit corporation based in California. Just because they haven't made any profits (yet) it doesn't mean they should be given free advertising.

    (I also have an issue with the "D-word" corporation. Not because of their penchant for evil-baddies with British accents, but because, if they could, they would buy, re-write, and "sanitize" every childrens fairy tale ever written. And then try to prevent schools from using them in school-plays.)

  • Comment number 66.

    Frankly I'd much rather have my sport sponsored by healthier organisations like gambling websites, taxpayer-funded banks and dodgy money-lenders. If the government are so concerned about people with alcohol problems they could try not opening pubs all day & not giving alcohol licenses to the likes of Tesco who then flog it off for pennies. Just saying is all.

  • Comment number 67.


    Perhaps Matt is affording some readers a greater level of intelligence than they deserve, but I for one would rather he patronised you individually rather than all of his readers by writing an article which has to spell out every individual point. The facts and evidence were presented in a clear and coherent fashion, and if you're incapable of digesting them and forming a sensible conclusion that's hardly Matts fault.

    As for all the people blathering on about free choice, you are missing the point. If you think that advertising has no effect you are being seriously naive. I'm not suggesting that every time a product pops up on the TV everyone is going to rush out and buy it, but brands don't shell out millions of pounds on these campaigns for the sheer hell of it, and the level of exposure secured ensures that their names are firmly in peoples minds, even if only on a subconscious level. How this can be viewed as a positive thing is beyond me, particularly when you consider the amount of children who will associate beer with football as a result.

    I guess the crux of the argument is what good can be gained from this endorsement, and other than swelling the F.A. coffers I can't really see any. At least we can all feel safe in the knowledge that all the money generated will find it's way back into football at grass roots level, what with the F.A. being an organisation so concerned with the good of the sport and all.

  • Comment number 68.

    Hmmm...on the one hand if I see certain announcements in local pubs, I'll buy a pint of Courage even though I'm normaly a lager drinker because 5p or so of the cost goes to my Exeter Chiefs.

    There's a big difference between that though and buying a brew cos it sponsers a competition. I don't know anyone dumb enough to do that.

  • Comment number 69.

    Can't blame advertising???? Yeah and we all drink Coke for it's refreshing taste and nutritional value at great prices.

    Like it or not we as a society succumb to advertising... why else do companies spend so much on it?

    Good article, well researched easy to read, won't remember it all but I get the gist. Job well done, some people in here need to get back to the pub and delude themselves they don't buy mass produced beers because of advertising, hic!

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    Somehow, I just knew that would get modded. Here's the censored version...

    So, despite the fact that we eat, drink and smoke whatever we choose to eat, drink and smoke, the advertising rots your brain brigade would have us believe that Formula 1 sponsored by tobacco companies will turn us into nicotine junkies, football sponsored by breweries will turn us into alcoholics, and any sporting event sponsored by McDonalds will turn us into clinically obese salad-dodgers. OK, let's run with that. How about the FA Cup sponsored by The Brussels Sprouts Growers Association? Formula 1 sponsored by Cucumbers International? Darts sponsored by the National Lettuce Company? That will have the opposite effect, and make us all healthier, won't it? Ahem, yes. What this is mostly about is a bunch of interfering shrieking lefties trying to get their names in the papers and their faces on the telly.

  • Comment number 72.

    @ AttilaTheCat

    Not sure why your original comment was modded. It was dimwitted, but not particularly offensive. Still, your censored version captures the simple minded essence of it well enough.

    As a smoker and drinker I'm not foolish enough to lay the blame for my habits and pastimes at the hands of advertising, but at the same time I certainly don't condone the practice of actively encouraging people to partake either.

    In an ideal world the F.A. Cup would't have any official sponsor at all (it managed just fine without one until 1994) but as football has become increasingly money obsessed the best we can hope for is a degree of responsibility to be shown when choosing the brands it promotes. Until Cucumbers International can afford to cough up £24m I guess that's not going to happen.

    Still, at least it keeps us "shrieking lefties" busy.

  • Comment number 73.

    So what you're saying is that if I watch the FA Cup I'm more inclined to drink Budweiser next season? Much as it pains me to say this but Budweiser is a horrible beer and I'd put it in the same category as Carling, Tui (NZ) & Foster's. Anyway, it'll still be the FA Cup to me even if it was sponsored by the Italian mafia!

  • Comment number 74.

    Matt, if car maunfacturers weren't allowed to advertise cars that go well in excess of national speed limits, there might not be so many road deaths; if IT companies weren't allowed to advertise, there might be fewer obese people typing away on your blog and they might be outdoors instead, leading a much healthier life; if the BBC didn't report on the Heineken Cup, we might not see so many meatheads out on the town on a Saturday night, if the BBC didn't portray anti-social behaviour on our screens, life might be more bearable. Sport is being targeted. If people's concern is really genuine, ban alcohol, tv, etc, at source, or at least ban advertising.

    And Attila, while we're at it, let's ban anachronisms like you whose idea of a debate is to resort to pariah tags. I'm not convinced the BMA is dominated by what you might call the 'looney left'. Let's debate the issues. Even Stalin and Hitler shared some views.

  • Comment number 75.

    @72 & 74 (and possibly a few others)

    I'll put my hand up to a certain amount of WUMmery. Fact is, though, that some of the pro-ad-banning views are just as daft as the ones I expressed, and the issues really aren't as clear-cut.

    Advertising in whatever form works, it can shape opinions and influence decisions, but I don't believe it works to the extent that some people claim it does, and it is in the interests of a lot of people (the advertising industry, those responsible for spending their company's advertising budgets etc.) to exaggerate its effectiveness. You're all intelligent people here, how many of your purchasing/consumption decisions are based on adblurb rather than informed fact-based research of available choices? Very few, I suspect. Yes, there will always be people who respond more, errr, enthusiastically to advertising without making an informed decision, PC World's tv laptop ads are a case in point. 3 seconds about what's in the box, and 27 seconds of how cheap they are and what lovely colours they come in. You and I wouldn't buy a laptop on the strength of those ads although many, apparently, do, but banning certain forms of advertising really isn't the way to increase consumer awareness about making, and promote the ability to make more "rational" or "sensible" purchasing decisions.

    Maybe I am an anachronism. Perhaps my view that people should take more responsibility for their decisions and actions rather than blame their problems on some bogeyman like advertising, the aforementioned video nasties, or violent computer games is old-fashioned. Maybe I'm just fed up with a burgeoning and increasingly strident do-gooding industry that takes it upon itself to tell the rest of us how to lead our lives.

    The effects of alcohol abuse are without doubt a serious problem, but banning its promotion will do little to address that issue's root causes. In 23 years of nursing I've done my time in A&E. I've patched up my fair share of drunken toerags who kick the wotnot out of each other on a Friday and Saturday night, and I've seen far more people than I want to who have been in the wrong place at the wrong time when some idiot has had a skinful and wants to let one off. Few, if any, were there because of advertising.

  • Comment number 76.

    Bud is wee wee!

  • Comment number 77.

    As many people have pointed out people aren't going to see an alcoholic drink sponsoring the fa cup and over night become alcoholic. Kids will always drink, think about the first time you got drunk was it because of an advert or a sponsorship? No it wasn't

  • Comment number 78.

    reading this makes me think the F.A have got it spot on now i am thinking (whilst at work work) i am going out for somthing to eat so will have Mcdonals probly pick up a mars bar as a snack for the afternoon!! then when i finish go to the PUB and drink a cold botle of BUD!!! could also be tempted to have a few carling aswell!!! thanks F.A you have planed my day and given me a craving for these products!!!

  • Comment number 79.

    Thank you for the humility Attila.

  • Comment number 80.

    Drooper, I hope I've been able to add something to the debate as well.

  • Comment number 81.

    Attila, no doubt.

  • Comment number 82.

    If all that matters is hauling in the most dollars and you don't care what the products are actually doing to your fans/customers, might as well see what the Medellin Cartel will offer for the Cocaine Cup, right?

    Does anyone recognize the concept of having 'enough' money? Certainly not FIFA, where everything (especially integrity) is for sale, but maybe the FA could step back for a moment and ask themselves if the purpose of everything they do is just adding more zeros to a balance sheet, or if they think sport is about something more.

    Just some thoughts from an Expat in Europe, and a big fan of the beautiful game.

  • Comment number 83.

    absolute moot point seeing as though the Champion's League is sponsored by Amstel.
    Nice effort, but waste of an article for me.

  • Comment number 84.

    It seems like the greatest trick that advertising has pulled is convincing the world, and BBC bloggers, that it doesn't really make any difference. It's the Kaiser Sose of the business world.

    @75 AtillatheCat, you write "you're all intelligent people here". That may be the case of people on these blogs (though at times I wonder). But the average IQ of the general population is around 100. That means half of the population as a whole have an IQ that is only double figures. People like you and me may not let it influence our decisions, but let's face it there are plenty of dumb people out there. The same idiots who end up in A and E are an alcohol advertiser's dream I imagine. How many of those people drink Stella cos of the adverts that make it seem so amazing? How many have mixed spirits and a energy drink before ending up in A and E because of the advertising? Why would anyone in their right mind drink Bailey's if the ad didn't make it look so deliciously creamy? I think advertising plays a massive part in our drinking culture, which let's face it, is a shambles. It is responsible for filling up A and E and the liver wards. If banning advertising of alcohol could help a bit, wouldn't it be worth it?

    Yes the people of Britain really are too stupid to make their own decisions. How else can you explain the fact that people spend tens of thousands of pounds over their lifetime for a product like cigarettes or alcohol that will give them the privilege of a slow, painful, gruesome death? My favourite myth to burst of smokers is how they seem to think they'll live a fantastic life and drop dead suddenly with no pain, no kids to miss, and all their finances in order, when the reality is they'll spend the last 5-10 years of their lives feeling like they are drowning in their own secretions.
    Given people still persist with making these stupid lifestyle choices, the government has no choice to be the "nanny" state and try and do everything it can to stop people making these choices because those same stupid will pitch up at an NHS hospital and expect the government to take care of them. They will probably complain about the wait, conditions, nurses and doctors too, all the while missing the irony that if they hadn't drank excessively or smoked they wouldn't even be there in the first place. It's a cost-benefit scenario: ban smoking in public, hope less people smoke, save money on health services. Ditto alcohol, so I am all for a Loi Evin.

  • Comment number 85.

    The old joke goes on forever....
    "What do Budweiser and making love in a Canoe have in common?"

  • Comment number 86.

    Never mind advertising Alcohol or Ciggies.... do those Companies REALLY think we'd buy their product just because it is associated with something ? I Love Guinness, but positively LOATHE Rugby. No connection.

    When World Snooker chastises a player (the new World Champion actually) for betting irregularities... why do they have a Betting Firm as their Sponsor? Plus, name as many Football Teams who have "" plastered on their shirts? It's hypocritical and more !

  • Comment number 87.

    @84 BennyBlanco

    I'm not disputing that there is a correlation between advertising and use, and I certainly agree that our drinking culture is something of a mess. I do, however, take issue with the idea that there is a simple relationship between advertising and abuse. People abuse alcohol for a variety of reasons and as I've said, banning alcohol advertising does little to address the root causes. If it did, maybe I'd accept that, but there is a credible body of evidence to suggest otherwise. Pretty much all the pros and cons are addressed in the documents to which Matt referred in his earlier post (59).
    My own view is that in general, bans (especially advertising bans) are a way of papering over the cracks. After all, Prohibition in the US didn't work. It's easier than tackling a problem as a whole, especially one as multi-faceted as substance abuse.

  • Comment number 88.

    Football deserves to have these kind of brands unavailable to them for sponsership. Not because if may affect people negatively or save the health budget but because football deserves it. Football takes what it can, is unable to manage itself effectively or indeed give the right message to people through it's refereeing. It doesnt produce what is expected of it by the nation and is the great under achiever of this country.

    Let's face it, football is due a cyclic trough in luck, if not now within 10-20 years. I can't wait to see it get what it deserves even though I love playing the game.

    Which sport will replace the gap? Who knows, but it must be a sport with better scruples that football.

  • Comment number 89.

    The wider issue here is the insipid invasion of British sports by American interests. We have already had quiet enough of their plastic food, plastic culture and soon we will be getting their plastic sport as well.

  • Comment number 90.

    I'm against the "nanny-state" and my beloved 'Gers are sponsered by Tennant, had Carling and famously McEwans BUT it would be nice for football and especially the FA to do away with sponsors like alcohol and fast-food and be backed by either a Government subsidy, the PL and FL on a grant basis or something decent like a technology company i.e. something rather more positve.

  • Comment number 91.

    When cigarette advertising as banned most cigarette companies benefitted and saw their sales rise as they were now on an even playing field with the companies that used to spend millions on advertising. It would be the same with alcohol.

    The number of smokers has decreased due to the ban in public places, not a lack of advertising. A product as widespread as beer advertises so that you choose a brand. Everyone knows that beers exists, adverts or not.

    Virtually every product, if used to excess, id bad for you. I imagine obesity is as much of a problem to the NHS as alcohol yet fatty foods are still advertised.

  • Comment number 92.

    For those of you questioning the effect of advertising, ask yourself one question;

    Would companies spend billions, just in case advertising had an effect?

    Of course not. They know exactly how effective it will be, ie, extremely. It's not that people are stupid enough to fall for advertising, it's just the top names have it down to a science these days, and people don't realise how easily they can be influenced. For people particularly susceptible to it, it's practically mind control.

    Or do you think McDonalds is successful because its food tastes great?

  • Comment number 93.


    "Or do you think McDonalds is successful because its food tastes great?"

    But people wouldn't go there if they didn't enjoy it. Nobody, no matter how stupid or impressionable thinks 'god i really hate McDonalds, it makes me want to vomit, but hey i liked that advert so I'm going to go buy a Big Mac'.

    To answer your question, companies like McDonalds spend billions on advertising so you go there and not Burger King or KFC. There isn't a person alive aged over about 3 years old who doesn't know that beer exists. The FA Cup is essentially being sponsored by a brand, not a product.

  • Comment number 94.

    People, people, people, why the incredulity? We all know football ceased to be merely a sport years ago and that the FA now is major league big business (not to mention UEFA and FIFA and World Cup bids, ahem, ahem). So as the saying goes "money talks and BS walks" (does that sidestep house rules?). Big business has never tried to display any degree of integrity, it's all about selling to the highest bidder to make maximum profit and never mind any related moral / health issues. You may chafe and you may bluster and you may protest but you, the common football fan, have no choice in the matter, the sponsors are paying moolaw you can only dream of.

  • Comment number 95.

    Personally, I think anyone who slips in 'Sepp club party' into a professional body of work should be applauded, it made me chuckle. In either case about 1000 times more enjoyable than a McNulty rant.

  • Comment number 96.

    "it's all about selling to the highest bidder to make maximum profit"

    I'm fairly sure, that the German federation although considered a bid to be sponsored by nike, opted to stay with Adidas for less money because Adidas is a German company and has sponsored the national team since the 50's.

  • Comment number 97.

    Yes, American Bud is a terrible beer, but British football has been sponsored by Carling for years....

    The Czech league is sponsored by Gambrinus - the same people who make Pilsner Urquel. This year the league was won by Viktoria Plzen - yep, the home town of those two beers! To celebrate some local pubs were giving away free beer.

    So, imagine your team winning the FA cup next year - would you want to drink Bud even if it were free?!

  • Comment number 98.

    76. That had me creased up! I'd been following (and enjoying) the increasingly heated debate. Then...your gem. LOL :-)

  • Comment number 99.


    So Tabacco was removed from adverts in sport on the grounds of " health "
    I smoke 50 per day and am very healthy.

    and yet we allow to very poor Booze Companys to sponsor a sport
    I drink lots of wine and im very healthy as a result.

    I can only assume these sponsorships for our so called " prestigous " cup tournaments are in keeping with the Global view, that most english football fans are nothing more the Lager Louts anyways i have no complaints as ive always thought this to be the case.

    talk about a backward and desperate attempt to re-vamp these competitions, the British will never ever learn.

  • Comment number 100.

    If you look at the Premier League, it would seem that most of the clubs are sponsored by a money lending, gambling or booze company, but I don't feel compelled to borrow a load of money and spend it getting lashed down the casino every time I watch Match of the Day. Football clubs are very much a business who will sell their shirt space to the highest bidder.

    It is disappointing however, to see that the FA think it's alright to sell out to Mars, Carslberg, Budwieser and Carling to name a few, when they're the ones in charge of promoting 'football for all'. Those three dodgy lagers alone reinforce the unfortunate belief that English football is for lager louts.


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