Food Watchdog Slams UK Soccer Clubs for Fast Food Links

28 January 2003

Britain’s soccer clubs are under fire for helping to promote food and drinks brands deemed unhealthy.

In a new report, the Food Commission criticises nine clubs in the elite Premier League for their links with fast food and high-sugar fizzy drinks, citing deals such as Tottenham Hotspur’s promotion of McDonald’s and Sunderland AFC’s work with the same burger behemoth plus Coca-Cola.

In particular, Manchester United is attacked for promoting Pepsi: “It seems that everyone in the team loves Pepsi,” growled the watchdog. “Thankfully, they can afford the best dental care, so tooth decay shouldn't be a problem for them, although it may be for their millions of fans.”

Also under fire is the game’s governing body, the Football Association, which has promoted Snickers chocolate bars and distributed nutritional guidance sponsored by Mars to schools.

“With rising levels of obesity and diabetes in children, top footballers could be excellent role models for children, demonstrating the link between good diet and good health,” commented Food Commission nutritionist Annie Seeley.

“But instead we see advertisements showing top players from Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers drinking Pepsi, the Premier League logo on Walkers Crisps and the Football Association encouraging children to eat chocolate bars and wear McDonald's-branded football kit.”

Only London club West Ham received praise for encouraging a healthy lifestyle to youngsters. Not that this appears to be enhancing the team’s performance – they were thumped 6-0 last weekend by none other than Pepsi-fuelled Manchester United.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff