Sydney FC has threatened its family-friendly image with the announcement yesterday of Star Casino as the football club’s principal partner and front of shirt sponsor, according to Greens Gambling Harm spokesperson Justin Field. In recent years, Sydney FC has made efforts to market itself as a family-friendly football club including:
- the formation of ‘Mixed Reserve Bays’ designed for fans who want to sit in “a safe and family friendly environment” for matches;
- a precinct Family Fun Day ahead of its first home game last weekend; and
- a more family-friendly kick-off time of 5pm for its semi-final game in April this year.
However, Mr Field said Sydney FC’s attempts for a more family-focussed culture would be undermined if the club took more than $1 million in an advertising deal with Star Casino. “Sydney FC can’t credibly be a family friendly club if it exposes children and families to gambling advertising on every player’s shirt at every single game,” he said. “The Sky Blue players, including club legend and captain Alex Brosque, are important role models for children and young people. This can all be undone when the experience of watching the game can’t be untangled from exposing our children to gambling advertising and promotion of the Star casino. “While this is a sponsorship deal for Sydney FC it is just another plank in Star’s advertising strategy to encourage people to gamble in their casino. By targeting professional sports they are trying to associate themselves with our sporting heroes and inevitably that advertising will be seen by children. “While gambling advertising isn’t necessarily targeted at children, Australian research on betting ads suggest marketing linked to sport drives a normalisation of gambling in young children. “The Greens are calling on Sydney FC to ensure its club is a safe and healthy environment for everyone, particularly children and families. “I’m encouraging the club to rethink this deal and ensure it protects its reputation as a family friendly and socially responsible club. That will be much harder when it’s young supporters are continually exposed to gambling promotion through this Star deal,” Mr Field said.