Post-match: The journey to date

Post-match: the journey to date

“Sadly, the game I love is awash with alcohol”
– Steve Ella, State of Origin 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986.

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Free beer fail

A State of Origin Blues promotion offering free beer has been slammed by former Blues player, Steve Ella, who is dismayed about the saturation of alcohol advertising in sport.

The Daily Telegraph, in partnership with Carlton United Breweries, Woolworths (BWS) and the National Rugby League (NRL) recently ran a promotion offering readers a free limited edition Victoria Bitter (VB) Blues can.

In a letter of complaint to NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg, Steve Ella, who has worked in the alcohol and other drug sector for 19 years, says he is concerned about the impact the promotion will have on impressionable young people and sport fans of all ages.

FARE also lodged a formal complaint with the NSW Department of Justice, stating the promotion breaches three separate sections of the NSW Liquor Act 2007.

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A family affair. Steve Ella’s daughter Kristen inspired to add her voice to the campaign.

slider-ella“Last month my dad wrote to Todd Greenberg about his concerns over the level of alcohol advertising and sponsorship in the NRL. Now it's my turn to do something about it.” – Kristen Ella

Ahead of Origin Game 2, Steve Ella’s daughter Kristen launched a petition calling for the NRL to phase out alcohol sponsorship. If you haven’t already done so, please sign and share her Change.org petition today.

Kristen says there is no question that alcohol is causing great harm to the families, children and communities that the NRL would have you believe it cares for. In articles on Mamamia, NITV and Drink Tank, Kristen says we must protect our kids and take alcohol out of the game.

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NRL responds

It’s been a long wait, but to its credit the NRL responded on 27 July.

In the letter, Greenberg outlines the NRL’s investment in measures to encourage its players and participants to drink responsibly. While acknowledging those efforts, we think there’s a bigger issue. The NRL’s influence extends beyond the game itself, and its alcohol sponsorship agreements and promotional activities run counter to the NRL’s internal programs, sending the community an entirely different message.

There’s potentially some good news here. Greenberg says the NRL is currently reviewing how it allows alcohol partners to activate their sponsorship through advertising and media. Hopefully such a review would ensure we don’t see a repeat of this year’s Blues VB giveaway. Steve has now written back to Greenberg and requested that FARE be involved in the sponsorship review process.

It’s great to get a response from the NRL, but this doesn’t mean our campaign has come to an end. It’s important that we continue to show the NRL, and other professional sports, that Australia cares deeply about this issue and wants to see change.