Alcohol watchdog Alkohol & Samfund is accusing FC Copenhagen, one of Danish professional sport's most visible teams, of promoting alcohol to children at schools and on the internet by organising a programme in which players visit schools in Greater Copenhagen to meet children, sign autographs and have their pictures taken with them.
But the problem is, according to Alkohol & Samfund, that FC Copenhagen's main sponsor, beverage giant Carlsberg, is best known for its beers. The organisation argues that by posting pictures and videos of the school visits where the Carlsberg logo can been seen, the team and the brewery violate laws preventing the marketing of alcoholic beverages to children.
“In the many years I have been monitoring the marketing of alcohol, I have never before seen it directly promoted in primary schools,” Johan Damgaard Jensen, the head of Alkohol & Samfund, told Politiken newspaper. “It seems to be very aggressive to seek out the children in such a direct manner.”
But Carlsberg, which has sponsored FC Copenhagen since 1999, and who is a major sponsor of football nationally and internationally – including the on-going Euro 2012 – disagreed with the allegations.
“The Carlsberg beer company sponsors FC Copenhagen. As a result, the name of the company is written on their jerseys so it’s not that we are out making commercials for our alcohol products,” Jens Bekke, a Carlsberg spokesperson, told Politiken.
FC Copenhagen and Carlsberg have been reported to the Alkoholreklamenævnet, which makes non-binding decisions in allegations of illegal marketing of alcohol, ten times in recent years, but they continue their practices, despite being told to change.
“It hasn’t been a problem to get verdicts in our favour,” Damgaard Jensen told Politiken. “The issue has been that FC Copenhagen and Carlsberg have failed to adhere to the decisions of the Alkoholreklamenævnet.”
In 2007, for instance, the Alkoholreklamenævnet warned Carlsberg to be extra vigilant with the team's use of the Carlsberg logo, particularly in situations where children could be influenced.
In March 2012, the Alkoholreklamenævnet ruled against FC Copenhagen and Carlsberg because there were pictures on the team's website of players drinking beer from oversize beer glasses with the Carlsberg logo on them while celebrating the league title the previous season.