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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

FA’s Bet365 deal is further evidence of ‘extremely troubling relationship’ between football and gambling industry

The Football Association’s (FA) deal with Bet365 is further evidence of the “extremely troubling relationship” between the sport and the gambling industry, a Christian advocacy group has said.

Sports Minister Nigel Adams said the FA has confirmed it will not be renewing the deal with the betting firm when it comes up for renewal, and is looking at options to see if the current deal can be restricted.

The controversy centres on Bet365 allowing football fans to watch play if they place a bet via their app. The gambling firm has been showing matches since the start of last season.

Mr Adams said that it is “absolutely right that the FA acts urgently on this”, and said he would be holding a meeting with the organisation to discuss the issue.

He added that “nothing is off the table” when the Government undertakes its review of the Gambling Act, and that his department will “look at every avenue possible to have this deal changed”.

The partnership drew criticism from viewers and campaigners earlier this month when all FA Cup third round matches were delayed by a minute to promote the Duke of Cambridge’s mental health charity.

Catholic Conservative MP Damian Collins, who served as chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee prior to the General Election in December, tweeted: ‘This is worse than grubby.

‘The FA deal with bet365 creates an active incentive for people to gamble by linking free coverage of FA Cup games to opening an online betting account. It’s inappropriate and both sides should reconsider the agreement.’

Christian Action Research & Education (CARE) said this latest controversy provided further evidence of the “extremely troubling relationship” between football and the gambling industry and insisted that a review of the Gambling Act cannot come soon enough.

“Sadly this is all further evidence of the extremely troubling relationship between the world’s most popular game and the gambling industry,” said James Mildred, CARE’s head of communications.

“No wonder the government are angry and that was also expressed by MPs across the House of Commons.

“For too long, betting companies have had a free reign to exploit vulnerable, problem gamblers,” continued Mr Mildred.

“At CARE, we passionately believe in the dignity of every human being and where there is such blatant injustice and exploitation, it should be stopped.

“The review of the 2005 Gambling Act cannot come soon enough, and we hope it paves the way for fundamental change to our current gambling laws so there is more support for those who are taken advantage of by betting firms.”

Picture: branding on display at a football pitch. (Dave Howarth/EMPICS Sport).