Bet365 Axes Soccer Player from Pundit Job Over Problem Gambling Stance

Posted on: November 15, 2023, 12:02h. 

Last updated on: November 15, 2023, 12:12h.

Online sports betting giant Bet365 has kicked soccer player Steven Caulker off a sports broadcast it sponsored because of his outspokenness on problem gambling.

Steven Caulker, Bet365, gambling
Steven Caulker playing for Alanyaspor in Turkey in April 2020, one of many teams he represented in his checkered career. (Image: Aawsat)

The journeyman center-back is currently without a club and has been pursuing a new career as a TV and radio pundit. On Monday, he took to LinkedIn to complain about his treatment at the hands of Bet365.

I finally landed a TV job, or so I thought I had,” he wrote. “Do you know what came back today? Bet365 (the TV company’s main sponsors) have rejected my profile due to them being ‘nervous about some of the positive work I have done around problem gambling.’

“People often say to me that it’s great that players can now open up about their struggles. Can they really? I certainly wouldn’t encourage it.”

Blighted Career

Caulker, who has played for Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, QPR, and Cardiff City, has been open about the struggles with gambling, alcohol, and depression that have blighted his career. Last April, he told ESPN he’d had a problem with gambling since he was 15, and has been in and out of rehab since his teens.

Caulker said his demons followed him around throughout his career, leading to squandered opportunities and a failure to reach his potential as an athlete.

The defender played for England in 2012 and scored a goal on his debut. But it was his first and last game for his country. His promising career never really took off. He is currently the captain of Sierra Leone, a team he qualifies to play for through his paternal grandfather.

‘Negative Experiences’

In a statement released to The Guardian, Bet365 said that Caulker had applied to appear on an unnamed video series sponsored solely by the gambling company on an online video platform, which was produced by one of its sports publishing partners.

“During the guest approval process, we became aware of Mr Caulker’s own negative experiences with gambling, which he has spoken about openly,” the betting giant said.

We welcome the excellent work Mr Caulker has done to raise awareness of problem gambling – however, as a betting company, we felt it would be inappropriate for Mr Caulker to appear on a Bet365-sponsored series of this type. In explaining these circumstances, we regret that our position was misstated by our media partner to Mr Caulker.”

Fortunately, punditry isn’t a long-term goal for Caulker, who is at the beginning stages of attaining his coaching badges and plans to become a manager. He told ESPN he believes his experiences as an addict will make him a better coach because he understands the pressures young players may be going through.

“I look back on football – my playing career – with a lot of regrets, and I don’t want to have the same as a manager,” he said.