Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Warning over drink sponsorship ban

A ban on alcohol sponsorship could be 'a disaster' for some sports, governing bodies warned

One of the country's top sports executives has warned politicians not to blame sponsorship by drinks firms for alcohol abuse.

Football Association of Ireland chief John Delaney argued that a "crude" ban on alcohol companies backing major competitions would actually damage society.

"Do not blame the sporting bodies for what is happening with alcohol abuse," Mr Delaney said.

"If you take the sponsorship away, the effect to this state would be greater because that money would not be spent in getting kids active in socially deprived areas."

The FAI chief was joined by Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) chief executive Philip Browne and GAA director general Paraic Duffy in a grilling from politicians trying to tackle the nation's drinking habits.

All three defended the sporting world against claims it could be linked with alcohol abuse.

They argued there was no firm evidence that a ban on sponsorship from drinks companies would impact on drinking levels.

Instead, they said it would suck money from the sporting organisations that invest heavily in promoting healthy lifestyles.

Mr Delaney, who was regularly seen celebrating with fans at Euro 2012 and other overseas matches, said mixing alcohol with sport was a friendly means of socialising.

He added that a huge portion of the sponsorship money his organisation receives from drinks' firms is invested in social inclusion and community programmes for youngsters.

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