BALANCE, the North-East Alcohol Office, is urging for time to be called on alcohol sports sponsorship.

Coinciding with the start of the FIFA World Cup, Balance is launching the ‘alcohol sponsorship: let’s kick it out’ campaign to highlight the influence that alcohol marketing and sports sponsorship, has on children and young people.

To kick off the campaign Balance has sponsored a team kit for Darlington Spraire Lads and Lasses FC.

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The under-nines team will be kitted out in a new strip for the upcoming season thanks to the deal.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “ It’s important for sports clubs such as this to engage children in sport and encourage them to live healthy, happy lives.”

The alcohol industry spends in the region of £800m a year on marketing and many youngsters now recognise alcohol brands more than leading biscuit brands.

The recent FA Cup final was watched by around one million children in the UK during which sponsors Budweiser were featured in a series of advertisements.

Mr Shevills said: “Sport appeals to all age groups and football in particular is followed by large numbers of children and young people. Our children should be able to watch their favourite sports without being constantly exposed to alcohol marketing.

“France has already implemented a ban and Ireland is considering a similar approach. It’s time for us to follow suit.”

Ronnie Joyeux, chairman of Spraire Lads and Lasses FC said he was “delighted” at Balance’s support.

While Councillor Andy Scott, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for health and partnerships, said the sponsorship deal “will hopefully help to reinforce the message to youngsters that alcohol and sport do not go hand in hand and that there are positive lifestyle choices to be made that do not involve drinking alcohol.”