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UEFA ‘hypocrisy’ over tobacco channel

Tom Wall04/07/2012 - 13:00

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Super Soccer is sponsored by Djarum Super
Super Soccer is sponsored by Djarum Super

The Euro 2012 football tournament was broadcast on an Indonesian channel sponsored by a cigarette brand, EHN has discovered.

The tournament, which took place in Poland and Ukraine and ended last week, was shown on Indonesia’s Super Soccer channel, which is sponsored by Indonesia’s most popular cigarette brand Djarum Super.

The UEFA logo has appeared alongside the Djarum Super logo on billboards in Indonesia.

UEFA, which is the governing body of football in Europe, declared the tournament would be ‘tobacco free’ last autumn. It banned the use, sale and promotion of tobacco in all stadiums.

UEFA claimed its decision would send ‘a strong message to fans everywhere, reaffirming the link between football and good health’. 

But it was less forthcoming when EHN asked it to comment on its decision to sell the rights to show Euro 2012 games to a channel sponsored by a tobacco firm.

UEFA refused to say how much money it made from the deal or how many other channels with Euro 2012 rights were sponsored by tobacco firms. Instead it said all the contracts were legal within the countries they were drawn up in.

A spokesperson said: ‘The content of contracts between UEFA and broadcast partners are obviously confidential. However, all contracts are based on applicable law, but UEFA is not able to get involved in local law and standard business practices in different countries.’

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, told EHN that UEFA’s position was the ‘height of hypocrisy’.

‘It is the height of hypocrisy for UEFA to say that Euro 2012 is a tobacco-free event while allowing official broadcasters in places outside Europe like Indonesia to accept tobacco company sponsorship and promote a cigarette brand.

‘If UEFA truly cares about protecting children from tobacco promotion it would ensure this protection is extended globally, limiting it to European children is shameful,’ she said

UEFA, she added, should commit to ensuring that in future all official broadcasters are required to commit to prohibiting any kind of tobacco industry advertising promotion or sponsorship.

The Indonesian National Commission for Child Protection told EHN that UEFA had failed to protect fans in Indonesia from cigarette promotion.

‘We would like UEFA to be aware that soccer fans in Indonesia can not enjoy a tobacco free Euro 2012, because it was broadcast on a television channel sponsored by tobacco brand. We expect UEFA to uphold its tobacco-free policy, and not let the tobacco industry use the logo to promote cigarettes,’ said commission member Lisda Sundari.

Djarum Super, which is also known as ‘super’, is popular with children. A third of Indonesia children smoke and there has been a six-fold increase in young smokers since 1995. There are few laws to protect children from tobacco addiction.

EHN revealed last month that Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand had allowed his name to be linked to Gudang Garam InterSport. Manchester United has since apologised on his behalf and said he will not be renewing the contract with Gudang Garam InterSport.

EHN also reported that Premier League games were being broadcast on Gudang Garam InterSport. The Premier League said its rights holders abided by the laws in the countries where they operated.

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