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AFL Grand Finalists Richmond commended for setting healthy sponsorship benchmark

AFL Grand Finalists Richmond commended for setting healthy sponsorship benchmark
September 28, 2019

The overwhelming majority of AFL clubs were sponsored by at least one company that promoted junk food, alcohol or gambling products during the 2019 AFL season, a review by the Curtin University-based Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA (PHAIWA) has found.

The review found that 17 of the 18 AFL clubs were backed by at least one brand classified as ‘red’ on the Healthy Eating Advisory Service traffic light system, with six of the teams having unhealthy sponsors on their playing uniform.

For the second year in a row, Richmond Football Club was the only AFL club that had zero ‘red’ or ‘amber’ sponsors.

Sponsors are classed on the traffic light system as ‘red’ or ‘amber’ depending on how much fat, sugar, salt and fibre are included in the product. Red sponsors also include companies who promoted alcohol and gambling.

Advising that the AFL sponsorship ladder highlighted a growing issue with alcohol advertising and unhealthy sponsorship promotion in Australian sport, PHAIWA Research Fellow with the PHAIWA’s Alcohol Programs Team, Julia Stafford stated “AFL is a major part of the Australian lifestyle and we know hundreds of thousands of Australian kids watch AFL each year. It is concerning that alcohol, gambling and junk food companies are promoting their products during sports they know children and teenagers are watching.

“This review found that all but one of the AFL clubs were sponsored by an unhealthy sponsor and 16 of the clubs were sponsored by alcohol companies. Previous research has shown that exposure to alcohol marketing can have a significant impact on young people and the close connection between alcohol and sport is damaging.”

Explaining said that it is important for Australian children to associate their sporting heroes with healthy behaviours, not junk food, alcohol, and gambling, Stafford noted “as a supporting organisation of the End Alcohol Advertising in Sport campaign, we are calling on the Federal Government to phase out unhealthy sponsorship of sport, including alcohol.”

Cancer Council WA’s Director of Cancer Prevention and Research, Melissa Ledger, said it is disappointing how junk food companies have infiltrated every available advertising space, particularly through sports advertising and sponsorship.

Ledger added “Cancer Council WA has recently called for all sectors, including sporting clubs, to help build environments that support health so it’s great to see such leadership from an AFL club like Richmond and we would really like to see more clubs following their example.

“In WA we’ve seen elite sporting teams like Perth Glory, Perth Heat and West Coast Fever say no to unhealthy sponsorships, and we encourage our AFL teams to do the same.”

The Adelaide Crows Football Club came in at last place, while both the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers were tied in ninth place after being sponsored by six ‘red’ category sponsors.

For information on PHAIWA go to

Images: Richmond Football Club remain the only AFL club with zero ‘red’ or ‘amber’ sponsors (top, courtesy of Richmond FC), PHAIWA's AFL Sponsorship Ladder (middle) and West Coast Eagles players make Hungry Jacks an unusual part of their high performance diet (below). 

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6th January 2016 - McDonald’s Australia shamed for marketing techniques that target children

25th April 2015 - Alcohol industry uses social media to present drinking as an integral part of the sport experience

22nd April 2015 - Fremantle Dockers and Curtin University announce education and research alliance

26th October 2014 - Alcohol, fast food and gambling dominate Aussie sport

10th June 2014 - Fast food sponsorship swamps childrens sport

2nd February 2014 - Health groups urge Australian Government to curb the junk food industry

15th February 2011 - Sporting Stars encourage junk food consumption

13th July 2010 - Health Charity adds pressure to alcohol and sport sponsorship debate

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16th March 2009 - Channel Ten attacked over junk food ads

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