Sportsbook Ads Featuring English Soccer Stars Mina, Kane Highlight Double Standard Some Want Ended

Posted on: July 28, 2019, 05:07h. 

Last updated on: July 28, 2019, 05:07h.

Another sports betting controversy popped up in soccer this past week, this time in England as a star player was charged by the country’s governing body for violating its rules related to gambling. Meanwhile, critics pointed out an apparent double standard in the rules.

This ad for a sportsbook in Kenya features current Tottenham Hotspur players. England’s Football Association allows it since the company is a Tottenham partner. However, individual players cannot agree to use their likeness to sponsor a sports betting company. The FA charged a player for doing just that last week. (Image: The Daily Mail)

The ruckus started Wednesday when England’s Football Association (FA) announced Everton defender Yerry Mina could face sanctions for appearing in an ad for a sports betting company. According to British media reports, the 24-year-old appeared in a spot for Betjuego, a sportsbook in his native Colombia.

The FA’s rule prohibits players from betting on any match anywhere in the world. In addition, the body also states players “when acting in a personal capacity, shall not be permitted to advertise or promote any betting activity that the Participant is prohibited from engaging” by the association.

However, on Sunday, The Daily Mail reported that four Tottenham Hotspur stars, including England national Harry Kane, were shown on a Kenyan billboard dressed in their Spurs jerseys in an ad for 1XBET, a sportsbook.

The book is Tottenham’s betting partner in Africa, and this is where the FA sees a difference. If a club has a partnership with a sportsbook, then FA allows the club to use players’ images in advertising for their partner.

So, Tottenham can use Kane’s image to promote 1XBET, just as Everton could use Mina to promote SportPesa, its sports betting partner. However, Mina supporting Betjuego means he now faces penalties up to a lifetime ban, although a fine or a suspension may be more likely in his case.

On social media, few appreciate the distinction.

The FA gave Mina until last Friday to respond to its charges.

Closing the Loophole

The Daily Mail reported that sports betting is highly controversial in Kenya, as has covered as well.

One Kenyan politician told the paper that sports betting has led to an increase in suicides among young men. One former addict said seeing ads like those featuring Kane makes it too appealing.

(I)t creates the impression that I should do it,” Nelson Bwire said. “I want to be like Harry Kane. Harry Kane is a 1XBET hero.”

Some elected lawmakers in Britain are now calling for an end to the ability for teams to use players’ likenesses in sports betting ads.

“Given the levels of gambling addiction in the UK and Kenya, it’s time to make rules about gambling adverts and sponsorships much tighter,” said Tom Watson, the deputy leader for the Labour Party. “Fans are bombarded with gambling ads and it’s not right.”

Such a law wouldn’t just impact Everton and Tottenham, both of which play in England’s Premier League (EPL). It would affect half of the 20 teams that will play in it this upcoming season.

Recent Action

Mina is just the latest player to face possible sanctioning by the FA.

Earlier this month, former Liverpool star Daniel Sturridge received a six-week ban after an independent commission found the striker guilty on two of 11 sports betting charges brought by the FA. With four weeks of the ban suspended, Sturridge will be eligible to play at the end of this month.

Specifically, the commission found that Sturridge gave his brother inside information about a possible transfer to another club. European sportsbooks take bets on what teams land new players during transfer window periods that occur twice per year.

Sturridge was also fined £75,000. The FA, which sought stiffer penalties, plans to appeal.