The Welsh star calls for an end to gambling sponsorship in football

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Hal Robson-Kanu (Credit: PA)

With the Premier League returning this weekend, Wales international Hal Robson-Kanu has called for an end to gambling sponsorship in football.

With many Premier League clubs having betting companies, the former West Bromwich Albion player said “footballers shouldn’t walk on gambling billboards”.

“As a professional athlete, father and business owner, I’ve always been a big advocate for promoting a healthy lifestyle,” said the 33-year-old.

“I believe in the strong and positive values ​​that sport and business can offer to all of us. That is why I would like to call for an end to gambling sponsorship in football.”

The former Premier League and Wales star said failing to act but continuing down this path would only jeopardize a young generation of fans.

“The sport that I love and that has given me so much is sadly betraying a generation of young fans by relentlessly promoting online casinos,” he said.

“As a player, I never felt comfortable walking to thousands of fans with betting logos on my shirt and off the pitches where I spent so much time.

“Millions of people are affected by gambling every year – people are losing their homes and their lives and their families.”

Hal Robson-Kanu after his miracle goal against Belgium (Credit: PA)

Now the footballer, loved by The Red Wall for his stunning Euro 2016 goal against Belgium, is among the many urging the government to step in and take urgent action to stop the spread of gambling advertising in football.

“Ending gambling sponsorship would be a significant and iconic step that will show that government and football put the health of our children and young people ahead of quick profit,” he said.

“I want both football and the government to kick these gambling companies off our chests and off our campus.

“Football is revered and revered by millions in this country and around the world – our jerseys and our stadiums should not be hijacked to promote addictive gambling products.”

“Worst Addiction”

Meanwhile, former Arsenal star Paul Merton, who has waged his own very public battle against gambling addiction, has attacked “lazy” Premier League clubs for signing sponsorship deals with betting companies and insists gambling addiction is still with them carries a stigma.

Merson’s own struggles with gambling, alcohol and drug addiction are well known and the 54-year-old has been open about his struggles over the past few years.

But while alcohol sponsorship has been largely curtailed and such a deal is no longer allowed on shirts, gambling advertising in sports remains widespread.

Nine Premier League clubs will have sponsorship from sports betting companies either on the front of their shirts or on the sleeve next season.

Merson – who has announced his support of Recoverlution, a new center for online addiction recovery – believes these clubs should do more to prevent gambling from becoming a major focus of the league.

“I think it’s fishy,” the ex-Arsenal forward told the PA news agency.

“If you look at the Big Six, six of the biggest clubs in the world, none of them have gambling on their shirts.

“We are in the period where we have the best league in the world, one of the best products in the world is the Premier League.

“I don’t know of any company that doesn’t want to sponsor a Premier League club and I just think it’s lazy, lazy work to just go out there and get gambling ads.

“Putting it on the front of their shirts and on the shirts that adult fans buy doesn’t send a good message. It’s lazy.”

Paul Merson (Image credit: promotional image)

Merson told the PA that gambling is the “worst” addiction he’s ever suffered from, with drugs and alcohol also causing problems throughout his life.

However, he believes other addictions have been taken more seriously, citing the lack of alcohol sponsorship in the Premier League as a prime example.

“They have cracked down on alcohol sponsors but people are still drinking so gambling advertising needs to be 100 percent reassured now,” he added.

“I think it shows that the stigma with gambling is still there, people say ‘just don’t do it’.

“I’m not saying to ban gambling forever, of course not. If you can have a bet, control it and enjoy it, fair game to you.

“But before the game on TV, at halftime, on the shirts, on the boards around the field. It is too much.

“That’s why I’m so excited about Recoverlution, it’s 24/7 and anonymous if people want to continue.

“There’s still a stigma, one in ten people still thinks it’s a weakness, not a disease.”

A fan-led national campaign has been launched calling on football clubs to stop sponsoring gambling.

Football fans against gambling advertisingwhich includes people recovering from gambling addiction and families betrayed by gambling-related suicides, has started more than 20 petitions.

The campaign group hopes to get one million signatures and wants clubs across the country to cancel all existing gambling partnerships and commit to rejecting future endorsement deals.

“Nowhere is gambling’s noxious presence felt more strongly than in football, which acts as a ‘hook’ that attracts young, first-time gamblers and prepares them for a lifelong addiction,” the group said in a statement.

If you are struggling with gambling addiction, help is available via www.gamcare.org.uk

Learn more about Recoverlution HERE


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