XXXX and the Maroons: rugby league’s second sponsorship split

Queensland’s record-breaking Maroons are set to start a new slate in 2018, following last week’s unexpected – albeit partial – split from Lion’s XXXX.  It is the second recent alcohol sponsorship shake-up, and a significant one too.

XXXX are synonymous with the Maroons. But come 2018, XXXX will withdraw their naming-rights deal, and remove their branding from the celebrated jerseys. This is another significant win in our campaign for #BoozeFreeSport, a win for you, and a win for Australian kids.

But don’t take raise your hat and cheer too quickly.

While removing alcohol sponsorship from the jerseys is a positive step forward, XXXX recently announced an extended deal with the Queensland Rugby League that will secure a 30 year partnership with the Maroons, and the end of a relationship with long-time sponsor Suncorp.

After all, the Maroons’ major sponsors have derived $42 million in value from their rugby relationship, so it is unsurprising that XXXX have failed to relinquish their reigns entirely. The move to remove alcohol sponsorship from the jerseys is a breakthrough for Booze Free Sport – it’s one less thing the kids will be exposed to – but it seems rather tokenistic.

We know that alcohol has a long history of partnership and sponsorship of the NRL in Australia and around the world; and we know that alcohol sponsorship and advertising of sports pose ethical questions because of the associated health and social risks.

Only two weeks ago, the Blues announced their split from Victoria Bitter and parent company Carlton United Breweries (CUB).

The moves by some of the most powerful brands in Australian sport are significant wins for #BoozeFreeSport.

But will the alcohol industry and the NRL stop sidestepping, and commit fully to #BoozeFreeSport?

The more #BoozeFreeSports fans we have, the bigger our impact.

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