‘The NRL must rethink its toxic association with alcohol’ warns former football legend

The champions of the new campaign: L-R Ric Charlesworth (Hockey), Rod Buttress (AFL), John Inverarity (Cricket), Rob Moodie (NRL), Steve Ella (NRL) and Michael Thorn (FARE).

A new report says viewers of the NRL Grand Final were exposed to three instances of alcohol advertising every minute during the game.

The study by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) assessed alcohol advertising during the AFL and NRL Grand Finals this year. In the AFL Grand Final on Channel Seven, there were 118 instances of alcohol advertising across the 161 minutes of game and break time.

In the NRL Grand Final on Channel Nine, fans received more than three times as many ads, totalling 365 in the 90 minutes including half time coverage.

Former Rugby League great and Central Coast Aboriginal Health worker Steve Ella laments that his sport has taken such a dangerous path.

“The NRL must rethink its toxic association with alcohol and get on with playing the game that we love,” Ella said.

Talking to ABC Radio, Ella added, “The alcohol industry is big, but someone has to stand up to them for our kids and our communities.”

Ella is one of seven Champions of the End Alcohol Advertising in Sport campaign, launched in Melbourne today, calling for a lifetime ban on alcohol advertising in sport.

The campaign is targeting the Free TV Code which exempts sport from bans on alcohol advertising during time slots when children are likely to be watching.

Another campaign Champion is John Inverarity, former Australian cricketer and Cricket Australia Chairman of Selectors from 2011-2014. He says it’s the responsibility of our top sporting codes to make a change.

“We have no greater responsibility than raising our children and giving them the right values and the right habits with regard to health.”

“It’s irresponsible and inappropriate for the athleticism and healthy specimens that play sport to be linked with alcohol,” Inverarity said.

The AFL and NRL Grand Finals both regularly make the top ten lists in the annual television ratings surveys. FARE Chief Executive Michael Thorn says exposing kids to that amount of alcohol advertising is alarming.

“The evidence is very clear that children’s exposure to alcohol advertising encourages them to start drinking earlier, to binge drink more often, and to start a journey toward alcohol-related harm.”

“It’s time for regulators to put an end to the alcohol industry’s deliberate efforts to encourage systematic alcohol harm and abuse in its customers of tomorrow,” Mr Thorn said.

The campaign has launched a petition which you can join here: http://www.endalcoholadvertisinginsport.org.au/take-action/

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