Football stickers and magazines expose kids to gambling logos despite ban

Published by  Communications

On 18th Dec 2020

Football magazines

Every children’s football magazine - and over 40% of collectible stickers and cards feature gambling logos - despite the ban on marketing betting to children, new research from the University of East Anglia and Goldsmiths, University of London, has found.  

UK law prohibits the explicit direct marketing of gambling to children but when the logos on players’ shirts are photographed and then published in children’s media, gambling sponsors become highly visible to young fans.  

The study found that 270 (42%) of the 636 Panini Official Premier League 2020 stickers feature a visible gambling logo, as did 133 (41%) of the 324 Topps Merlin Official Premiership stickers sold to collect in 2018. 

Of the 607 official trading cards available for the Match Attax Premiership 2017/18 season, 220 cards (36%) had a visible logo, as do 212 cards (43%) out of 498 in the Panini Adrenalyn XL Premiership 2019/20 collection.  

Lead author Dr Natalie Djohari at UEA, and Dr Gavin Weston, Prof Rebecca Cassidy and Ivana Kulas Reid at Goldsmiths, published the results of their study into football merchandise in the academic journal Soccer & Society

 All five magazines for young football fans that were analysed (FootyKick!Kick Extra!Match and Match of the Day) contained visible logos, including on the pull-out posters for bedroom walls.  

BBC’s Match of the Day - a weekly, 68-page magazine for children aged between six and 14 with a circulation of 38,000 – consistently had high numbers of logos visible, with 37 in a March 2019 issue, 52 in May 2019, and 38 in January 2020. This is equivalent to finding a gambling logo on every other page of the magazine. 

The January 2020 issue of Kick! Extra topped the league for the most logos with 59 - equal to 1.64 images on every page. This was partially a consequence of the magazine containing a poster for five English Premier League teams, each of them showing four players in full kit.  

In the 2019-20 season, half of the 20 teams in the English Premier League wore shirts bearing the logos of betting brands, generating a projected £349m income for their clubs. Across children’s football magazines in 2019, logos for 20 different gambling brands were found, with a further two team sponsors appearing in 2020.

The study explains that children are football fans in a different way to adults - they see merchandise as a tool for authenticating their fandom, connecting with their favourite teams and players, and finding out the latest news. They are also more likely than adults to have an interest in multiple teams. Sticker albums, trading cards and magazines remain popular for young fans, even in today’s online world. 

Dr Natalie Djohari, a research associate in UEA’s School of International Development, said: “Advertising Standards Agency guidelines say that it is the responsibility of marketers to ensure children are not exposed to gambling advertising but a football player emblazoned with a logo, even when it is intended to sell products to adult consumers, has their photo refracted multiple times on to football cards, stickers, magazines and other merchandise. In this way, gambling logos very quickly become visible throughout the football-related worlds of child fans.” 

Concerned by the volume of gambling adverts on television, UK politicians have recently called for an end to shirt sponsorship in football. Some clubs, such as Luton Town, have turned down lucrative gambling sponsors, and the Football Association ended its association with Ladbrokes in 2017.  

Dr Weston, lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths, said: “Children might not have the experience or critical faculties to understand the significance of a gambling company’s logo or to be wary of the appeal of products that have addictive qualities. But latest figures from the Gambling Commission show 55,000 children have a gambling problem. 

“While more research is needed to understand how young fans interpret gambling branding on their heroes’ shirts, more immediately, policy makers and magazine publishers need to consider how the visibility of gambling logos can be reduced in products marketed to children.”  

The visibility of gambling sponsorship in football related products marketed directly to children by Natalie Djohari, Gavin Weston, Rebecca Cassidy and Ivana Kulas Reid was published in Soccer & Society on December 15, 2020.

Latest News

Cryptosporidium parvum under the microscope
30 Jun 2022

How globalisation could be making human parasites more virulent

Parasites that cause severe diarrhoea are likely to become more virulent because of the speed at which they are exchanging their DNA and evolving – according to...

Read more >
Grassland wildfire
30 Jun 2022

Climate change will increase chances of wildfire globally – but humans can still help reduce the risk

New research highlights how the risk of wildfire is rising globally due to climate change – but also, how human actions and policies can play a critical role in...

Read more >
Aerial view from drone of a large flood affecting many houses in a town.
29 Jun 2022

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would reduce risks to humans by up to 85%

New UEA research quantifies the benefits of limiting global warming to 1.5°C and identifies the hotspot regions for climate change risk in the future.

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
A woman holds a drawing of a human gut against her stomach.
28 Jun 2022

Maternal microbiome promotes healthy development of the baby

A mother’s gut microbes can help in the development of the placenta, and the healthy growth of the baby - according to new UEA research.

Read more >
A woman entering an MRI scanner
27 Jun 2022

Cutting-edge 4D flow MRI scans could revolutionise blood flow assessment in the heart

UEA researchers have developed cutting-edge imaging technology to help doctors better diagnose and monitor patients with heart failure.

Read more >
A Turtle Dove on a branch
25 Jun 2022

Built infrastructure, hunting and climate change linked to huge migratory bird declines

Migratory birds are declining globally because of the way that humans have modified the landscape over recent decades, UEA research shows.

Read more >
An infant taking part in a research project at UEA.
24 Jun 2022

Babies and over 65s needed for UEA psychology research

From the very young to the somewhat older, psychology researchers at UEA are looking for participants to help with two studies.

Read more >
Destruction of forest
23 Jun 2022

Loss of nature is pushing nations toward sovereign credit downgrades and ‘bankruptcy’

The world's first biodiversity-adjusted sovereign credit ratings show how ecological destruction affects public finances – driving downgrades, debt crises and...

Read more >
Yelena Moskovich, Scarlett Brade, Charlie Higson
22 Jun 2022

Soviet-Ukrainian novelist and Fast Show comedian take centre stage at Noirwich Crime Writing Festival

The ninth Noirwich Crime Writing Festival returns in September, with a special line-up announced today (Wednesday 22 June) featuring an award-winning...

Read more >