English and Dutch football fans drinking together in 2009
English and Dutch football fans drinking together in 2009

Alcohol companies are sponsors of major association football teams and tournaments. Branding has been voluntarily removed from children's replica kits and banned outright in France. Alcohol cannot be consumed in parts of English football grounds with view of the pitch, or anywhere in Scottish grounds outside of corporate hospitality.

In England, football had a drinking culture, which declined from the late 1990s due to foreign managers such as Arsène Wenger and an increased focus on health and fitness. Some star footballers have suffered from alcohol abuse up to the point of death, and others have committed alcohol-related crimes such as drink driving. Conversely, other players abstain from alcohol, including for reasons of faith.

Alcohol and players

Two-time FIFA World Cup winner Garrincha died at the age of 49 due to alcohol abuse
Two-time FIFA World Cup winner Garrincha died at the age of 49 due to alcohol abuse

English football had a drinking culture as could seen by the example of Arsenal's Tuesday Club. One of the first managers to challenge this and promote the health and performance benefits of abstinence was Frenchman Arsène Wenger, who was hired by Arsenal in 1996. In 2016, he said that there was no longer a drinking culture in English football as players were aware of the risks.[1][2]

Players who died due to chronic alcohol abuse include Northern Irishman George Best (59)[3] and Brazilian Garrincha (49).[4] Players who had long-term issues with alcohol include Tony Adams,[1] Paul Merson,[2] Paul Gascoigne,[5] Gary Charles,[6] Jimmy Greaves[7] and Brian Clough.[8] Footballers convicted of drink driving include Yaya Touré,[9] Wayne Rooney,[10] Craig Bellamy,[11] Charlie Adam[12] and Hugo Lloris.[13]

Muslim footballers do not consume alcohol and celebrations have been altered to avoid exposing them to alcohol.[14] Notable non-Muslim footballers who abstain from alcohol include Cristiano Ronaldo,[15] Gareth Bale,[16] Jermain Defoe[17] and Harry Kane.[18]

Alcohol and fans

In 1985, the consumption of alcohol in the stands of English football grounds and stadium areas with views of the pitch was banned in order to curb hooliganism. In 2021, former sports minister Tracey Crouch considered changes to this rule, believing that it encouraged fans to drink quickly at half time. The idea was criticised by Mark Roberts, the police's leader on football.[19]

Alcohol has been banned from any parts of Scottish football grounds since unrest at the 1980 Scottish Cup Final between Celtic and Rangers, excluding corporate hospitality areas. There was talk on revoking this ban for UEFA Euro 2020, which was opposed by the police.[20]


Liverpool's David N'Gog in a Carlsberg-sponsored shirt in 2009
Liverpool's David N'Gog in a Carlsberg-sponsored shirt in 2009

English football clubs sponsored by alcohol include Liverpool with Carlsberg (1992–2010),[21] Newcastle United by Scottish & Newcastle (1980–2000),[22] and Everton by Chang Beer (2004–2017).[23] By the 2017–18 season, there were no longer any alcohol sponsors on shirts in the Premier League for the first time, as gambling companies predominated.[24] In Scotland, rivals Celtic and Rangers shared Carling (2003–2010)[25] and Tennent's (2010–2013)[26] as sponsors before moving onto Magners[27] and Blackthorn Cider, respectively.[28]

English tournaments sponsored by alcohol include the Premier League by Carling (1993–2001),[24] the FA Cup by Budweiser (2011–2014),[29] and the EFL Cup by Worthington's (1998–2003) and Carling (2003–2012).[30] In Scotland, such tournaments include the Scottish Cup by Tennent's (1989–2007)[31] and the Scottish Football League by Bell's whisky (1994–1998; 1999–2006)[32][33]

In June 2007, the Portman Group, representing Britain's drinks industry, voluntarily agreed to remove alcohol sponsors from replica kits for children.[34] Owing to concerns about alcohol, Carling removed their branding from children's Celtic and Rangers kits in 2008 ahead of a Scottish legal ban on alcohol adverts appearing on children's kits which came into force in 2009.[35]

Since the passing of the Loi Évin in 1991, it is illegal in France to use sponsorship to promote alcohol. For this reason, visiting foreign teams have to remove alcohol branding from their kits. There exists a loophole by which the branding of alcohol companies is permitted if it is explicitly promoting a low-alcohol beer with an ABV of under 1.2%; Carlsberg was able to sponsor UEFA Euro 2016 in France for this reason.[36] At UEFA Euro 2020, French player Paul Pogba removed a sponsored bottle of non-alcoholic Heineken during a press conference; organisers then said they would no longer place beer bottles around Muslims such as Pogba.[37]

In June 2019, North America's Major League Soccer allowed jersey and stadium sponsorship by liquor and gambling companies.[38] As of November 2020, the only Central American countries banning the advertising of alcohol in sport were Costa Rica and Panama. A bill in Costa Rica then passed its first reading, prescribing a 6% tax on alcohol sponsorships, and ensuring that 20% of advertising fees would be spent on building and maintaining sports facilities.[39]

In 2012, Spain banned sponsorship of alcohol with an ABV of 20% or higher, in sport. The compromise was due to breweries investing heavily in the game, including investment at grassroots level: in 2017 they invested €60 million, with sponsorships potentially doubling or trebling that amount.[40]

See also


  1. ^ a b Lawrence, Amy (17 November 2016). "Arsène Wenger: Drink is not a major problem now in English sport". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  2. ^ a b "What Arsene Wenger changed at Arsenal: Paul Merson's fascinating insight". Sky Sports. 22 October 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  3. ^ Davies, Caroline (19 April 2009). "George Best and his mother destroyed by the bottle". The Observer. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  4. ^ Bellos, Alex (27 April 2002). "On a glorious bender". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  5. ^ "Gascoigne: I know I'm happier when I'm not drinking, I can sometimes be a sad drunk". Marca. 8 February 2021. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  6. ^ Spencer, John (7 August 2005). "Triumph and despair: Gary Charles". the Guardian. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  7. ^ "The Monday Interview: Jimmy Greaves". the Guardian. 25 August 2003. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  8. ^ "Clough's bottle battle". BBC Sport. 12 August 2002. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  9. ^ "Yaya Touré admits to drink-driving but denies intentionally consuming alcohol". The Guardian. Press Association. 13 December 2016. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  10. ^ "Wayne Rooney banned after admitting drink-driving". BBC News. 18 September 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  11. ^ Lewis, Ffion (26 March 2019). "Craig Bellamy convicted of drink driving after overtaking a police car". WalesOnline. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  12. ^ "Ex-Scotland footballer Charlie Adam fined for drink-driving". 6 January 2022. Retrieved 25 May 2022 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  13. ^ "Hugo Lloris fined and banned for being 'completely drunk' while driving". The Guardian. Press Association. 12 September 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  14. ^ Cowling, Rob (5 July 2013). "Premier League: How Muslims are changing English football culture". BBC Sport. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  15. ^ "Cristiano Ronaldo: I had a glass of champagne after Euro 2016 and was a little drunk". Marca. 26 December 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  16. ^ Malone, Sam (7 November 2010). "Gareth: 'I can't stand the booze'". Wales Online. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  17. ^ "Jermain Defoe reveals the great lengths he goes to remain teetotal". The Independent. 26 November 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  18. ^ González, Lorena; Leveridge, Sam (31 December 2017). "Harry Kane: The striker who doesn't drink alcohol or go clubbing". Marca. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  19. ^ "Drinking in seats at football grounds could be reinstated as part of a fan-led review into the game". Sky Sports. 24 September 2021. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  20. ^ "Talks held on lifting football's booze ban". BBC News. 25 October 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  21. ^ "Carlsberg confirms ends Liverpool FC sponsorship". Reuters. 14 September 2009. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  22. ^ Ryder, Lee (13 November 2016). "Newcastle United held talks with Newcastle Brown Ale over possible return of old sponsors". Evening Chronicle. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  23. ^ Beesley, Chris (9 May 2017). "Chang to no longer be Everton shirt sponsors but will maintain links with Blues". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  24. ^ a b Pitt-Brooke, Jack (14 August 2017). "How gambling has replaced beer on Premier League shirts this season". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2017-08-15. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  25. ^ "Old Firm sign new sponsorship deal". The Guardian. 3 January 2003. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  26. ^ "Celtic and Rangers sign new sponsorship deal with Tennent's". The Guardian. Press Association. 3 February 2010. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  27. ^ Joseph, Seb (9 January 2013). "Magners signs three year shirt deal with Celtic". Marketing Week. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  28. ^ "Rangers shirt deal with Blackthorn Cider". The Scotsman. 2 March 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  29. ^ "Budweiser ends FA Cup sponsorship after three years". BBC News. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  30. ^ Bhunjun, Avinash (20 September 2017). "What is the Carabao Cup? Here are all the names the League Cup has had". Metro. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  31. ^ "Smith admits Scottish Cup subsidy". BBC Sport. 4 September 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  32. ^ Gaunt, Ken (30 September 1997). "Football: Scottish sponsors decide to pull out". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2015-09-25. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  33. ^ "SFL ends search for new sponsor". BBC Sport. 20 July 2007. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  34. ^ Sweeney, Mark (4 June 2007). "Brewers' logos to be removed from kids' replica kits". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  35. ^ "Carling to remove logo from Old Firm kids' shirts". Marketing Week. 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2022-01-16.
  36. ^ Faber, Stéphanie (23 March 2017). "Loi Évin: How Law Makers in France Have Forced a Divide Between Alcohol & Sport". Sports.legal. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  37. ^ "Euro 2020: Officials will stop placing bottles of Heineken in front of Muslim players". The Independent. 26 June 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-06-26. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  38. ^ Mashayekhi, Rey (26 June 2019). "Major League Soccer Will Allow Gambling, Liquor Sponsors for Jerseys and Stadium Rights". Fortune. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  39. ^ Arrieta, Esteban (20 November 2020). "Licor ya puede patrocinar eventos deportivos, clubes y atletas" [Liquor can now sponsor sporting events, clubs and athletes]. La República (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  40. ^ García Ropero, Javier (23 April 2018). "Las cerveceras le ponen una marcha más al patrocinio deportivo" [Breweries go one step further in sports sponsorship]. Cinco Días (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 January 2022.