The Chaplain for Sport has warned that gambling is the “silent scourge of our society” as he called for a ban on gambling firms sponsoring sports shirts.
Mgr Vladimir Felzmann, who is also CEO for the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, said that “gambling is the silent scourge of our society. For an accelerating number, it is an addiction – as destructive as alcohol or drugs.
“To the growing number of families strapped for cash it seems a magic wand which is bound to do the trick; they say ‘if not this week, then very, very soon. Fingers crossed’.”
Mgr Felzmann’s call follows a similar one from the Labour Party, who pointed out that 25 of the 92 league clubs, including nine out of 20 Premier League sides, are currently sponsored by betting firms. Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson said it is wrong for young fans to be exposed to the logos of betting firms on football shirts and it was time to take action to cut the link between gambling firms and sports shirts.
Mr Watson also said clubs should take the lead from the FA as it ended its commercial agreement with Ladbrokes in June after deciding it was not appropriate to partner with a gambling company.
Labour said the FA already prohibits under-18 teams from displaying the logos of gambling firms as that would be classed as wearing clothing which would be ‘detrimental to the welfare, health or general interest of young persons’.
Children are being targeted with a record number of gambling ads with the industry spending £1.4 billion promoting betting since 2012, Mr Watson said.
“Football has to play its part in tackling Britain’s hidden epidemic of gambling addiction,” said Mr Watson. “Shirt sponsorship puts betting firms in front of children and says we don’t take problem gambling seriously.”
This weekend’s Premier League fixtures:
Saturday 16th September
Crystal Palace v Southampton – 12:30pm
Huddersfield Town v Leicester City – 3:00pm
Liverpool v Burnley – 3:00pm
Newcastle United v Stoke City – 3:00pm
Watford v Manchester City – 3:00pm
West Bromwich Albion v West Ham United – 3:00pm
Tottenham Hotspur v Swansea City – 5:30pm
Sunday 17th September
Chelsea v Arsenal – 1:30pm
Manchester United v Everton – 4:00pm
Picture: Joey Barton wearing a Burnley shirt emblazoned with sponsors Dafabet, an online gambling company. As previously reported in The Universe, Barton received an 18-month ban from the FA in April, as well as a £30,000 fine, for placing 1,260 bets on matches between March 2006 and May 2013. (Martin Rickett/PA).