Spanish government criticised for not banning football sponsorships

Spanish government football

The Spanish government has been criticised internally for not outlawing football sponsorships, despite restricting their freedoms.

Reacting to this week’s Royal Decree on Advertising, FACUA – a consumer rights body in the country – argued that regulations weren’t strong enough.

A full ban would be counterproductive

FACUA is has made its thoughts on gambling laws in Spain clear before. In the past, it has referred to gambling ads during football matches as a ‘serious irresponsibility’. Moreover, the organisation concluded that nine in 10 consumers would endorse a complete ban of advertising and sponsorship by casinos and bookmakers.

After the full gambling ad legislation was released, FACUA said that PSOE-Podemos – the country’s coalition government – should’ve been tougher.

However, those views were not echoed by Alberto Garzón – Spain’s new Minister for Consumer Affairs. He said that while a total ban would be ideal, it’s not realistic.

“If there are people [who want] the total ban on advertising, I am here to discuss it and explain that international experiences, such as that of Italy, have proved to be a failure; that the economic rationality of the measure is also wrong and that therefore the total ban on advertising is not only inappropriate but also imprudent.

“There are people who will bet, yes, and yes because they may have a problem.”

According to Garzón, a full ban on advertising would also have pushed more players towards unregulated operators.

“If we generate incentives for companies to go to the illegal world because they no longer have advantages in the legal world, we are likely to be pushing people who need protection to an illegal world where there is no protection.”

Spanish football and sponsorships

As outlined in the new decree, ads on radio and TV will be banned until 8 p.m. each day. On top of this, online betting advertising shall only be permitted between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. each morning. The country’s top division, La Liga, plays around 50% of its games within the banned time frames.

The sponsorship of stadiums and team names is also prohibited. Meanwhile, celebrities or whoever else the government deems to be a “well-known” personality cannot associate themselves with betting companies in the country.

Shirt sponsorships will be allowed, but logos must be removed from replica youth shirts.

19 of La Liga’s 20 clubs currently have some kind of bookmaker sponsorship deal. The government chose not to ban these fully, to avoid a detrimental impact. Of these, eight have gambling shirt sponsors.