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Spain Moves Forward with Gambling Sponsorship Ban on Soccer Teams

Spain’s soccer clubs are struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon, Spain may no longer permit gaming companies to sponsor soccer teams, while teams argue they need sponsorship revenue.

Real Madrid’s players celebrate winning the La Liga title in July after the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid and Villarreal. (Image: Gabriel Bouys/AFP)

La Liga league president Javier Tebas said the new policy would lead to the teams collectively losing 90 million euros, about US $105M, Reuters reported last week.

One La Liga team in Spain, Valencia, has already lost about 100 million euros ($116M) in revenue from the pandemic, Reuters said.

As a compromise, Tebas wants to see the new policy implemented over a three-year period to lessen its financial impact on the teams. The original plan called for the new policy to be implemented over a one year period.

Currently, seven of 20 soccer teams in the La Liga division are sponsored by gambling companies. As of last summer, eight La Liga clubs sport gaming firms as their primary shirt sponsor. Under the new rule, the sponsorships have to cease before the playing season ends in May, Reuters reported.

The league stopped play on March 12 because of pandemic risk. Clubs resumed play on June 11.

Rule Targets Gambling Among Young Adults

The new policy tries to curb gambling, which has led to “serious health and social risks,” warned a recent letter from Spain’s minister of consumer affairs, Alberto Garzon. Of particular concern is increased gambling among those between 18 and 25 years of age, the Reuters report said.

The amount of wagering among this age bracket jumped from 29 to 40 percent in the last four years. Also, the amount of money spent by young people on gambling has increased by 13 percent a year, the report adds.

Younger fans are particularly vulnerable because soccer stars are role models, government officials have said.

Under Garzon’s rules, gambling firms will not be able to sponsor team stadiums, equipment, uniforms, and any other aspect of a club. That expands on restrictions that already prevented such sponsorships on youth apparel.

The eight La Liga teams with betting logos on their shirts have already had to block or remove those marks based on a temporary ban that began on March 31.

UK Soccer Fans Support Gambling Ad Ban

Last month, in the UK a survey showed a sample of soccer fans would broadly support a ban on gambling ads in the sport.

The poll by Survation found that 44 percent of all respondents agreed with the statement, “All gambling sponsorship and promotion in football [soccer] should end.”

Of the top 44 teams in English soccer, 26 sport betting logos on their jerseys this season.

The UK government has indicated that it will soon implement reforms to the country’s 2015 Gambling Act, and many suspect that sports ads will be among the first to be eliminated.

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