A NEW sponsorship deal between the Fremantle Dockers and a global grog company is “disappointing” says Cancer Council WA.
On Wednesday the footy club announced a “partnership” with Pirate Life for 2022, which will see the label’s beer served at the Club’s four function rooms – including the renamed “Pirate Life Pavilion”.
It would also see joint events staged throughout the year, which has CCWA alcohol program manager Julia Stafford particularly concerned about the marketing of alcohol to children.
“The association of alcohol and sport normalises drinking,” Ms Stafford said.
“Seeing kids’ heroes as walking billboards for alcohol sends all the wrong messages.
“It’s disappointing that sporting clubs are welcoming rather than moving away from harmful industries like alcohol,” she said, noting the Dockers also have sponsorship deals with junk food provider McDonalds and sugary drink manufacturer Coca Cola.
On its website the Dockers talk up Pirate Life as a “craft brewery” and spruik the founders’ close links to WA, noting star Nat Fyfe was an early investor and a mate of a Pirate staffer.
But the reality is Pirate Life has been owned by Carlton and United Breweries since 2017; CUB is in turn owned by Asahi, one of the world’s largest alcohol companies.
Ms Stafford says the Cancer Council sees this type of masking “a lot”; another tactic to try and downplay the prevalence of the big end of town on sporting clubs and to emphasise the “fun” of the industry.
Sporting stars are often in the media spotlight for indiscretions after a night on the turps, which Ms Stafford says should have clubs concerned about where their duty of care to players and staff lay when they were signing up to promote alcohol.
“When you have sponsorship with a high risk company, it does increase the risk that you put players into difficult situations, and it’s not very inclusive,” she said, noting players might come from teetotaling cultures but be forced to promote alcohol.
Ms Stafford says while a few clubs have successfully weaned themselves off alcohol sponsorship by finding healthier alternatives, they’re the exception.
“The Dockers are not alone and that is more reason for the government to step in and phase it out,” she said.
The Herald called and sent an email to the Dockers, but didn’t hear anything back before deadline.
On the club’s website, CEO Simon Garlick said the two organisation shared ambitious aims “while remaining authentic, humble and connected to our roots.
“Since I first arrived at Fremantle I was consistently blown away by the passion of the Purple Army and it is this very passion that flows through the founders of Pirate Life, so we are obviously excited to be working together this season,” Mr Garlick said.