1st Edition

Sport, Sponsorship and Public Health

By Robin Ireland Copyright 2023
    170 Pages 45 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Continue Shopping

    This book examines the development of sport sponsorship and its impact on global public health. It argues that sport governing bodies should not continue to treat fans solely as consumers, and that a more ethical approach should be taken to sport sponsorship.

    Drawing on research from sport studies, marketing and public health, the book presents a brief history of advertising and marketing in sport, including the importance of tobacco in the development of sport sponsorship, before exploring key aspects of the contemporary relationship between sport and corporate sponsors, including mega-events, digital technologies and brand engagement. It offers an in-depth case study of sponsorship in the English Premier League – one of the world’s most successful sporting properties – before considering how sport might be better regulated, now and in the future, to better protect the interests of fans and other stakeholders from a health perspective. The book features a number of insightful images showcasing sport sponsorship in connection with tobacco, mega-events, alcohol, junk food and drink, and gambling over the years.

    Addressing a topical and hugely important issue, this is important reading for students, researchers, practitioners and policy makers with an interest in sport business and management, the ethics of sport, physical activity and health, event studies, marketing or public health.

    1          Introduction

    2          Public Health and Sport

    3          An Introduction to Advertising and Marketing in Sport

    4          The Tobacco Industry and the Development of Sport Sponsorship

    5          Mega-Events and Sponsorship

    6          The Commodification of Modern Sport

    7          The Commercialisation and Globalisation of Football in England

    8          Sport and Brand Engagement

    9          The Regulation of Sport

    10        Conclusions and Discussion


    Robin Ireland is Honorary Research Fellow in the College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences affiliated to the School of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, UK. He is also Honorary Director of Research with the European Healthy Stadia Network. He was awarded his PhD by the University of Glasgow in 2021. His thesis was on the Commercial Determinants of Health in Sport. He was elected Member of the UK Faculty of Public Health through Distinction in 2015.

    'Sport, Sponsorship and Public Health documents how sports have become an important channel for the forces that drive the epidemic of non-communicable diseases. As long as they profit from marketing unhealthy products like fast food, soft drinks and alcohol, are platforms for gambling and fail to make their events tobacco free and environmentally sustainable, sports make a mockery of the concept of "purpose over profit" that is the cornerstone of social responsibility.'

    Patrick K. Gasser, former Head of Football Social Responsibility at UEFA, Switzerland

    'Dr Ireland has written a must-read for anyone interested in the interplay between sports and the commercial determinants of health. His passion for both subjects shines through the text, providing an effective blend of personal perspectives and academic insight covering both historical (how did we get here?) and contemporary perspectives (including the insidious nature of digital emotional manipulation in this space). What’s more, he does not shy away from tackling the big issues and the big names head on. Read this book – and learn from one of the best.'

    Emma Boyland, Chair of Food Marketing and Child Health, University of Liverpool, UK

    'Ireland takes the reader on a deep dive into the complex and fascinating relationship between fans, sport, and marketing. Starting with the roots of unhealthy marketing practices, Ireland shares the compelling history and evolution of food, beverage, tobacco, alcohol, and gambling marketing in sport and its impacts and implications for public health. Far from preachy, Ireland finishes his absorbing narrative by making practical recommendations for fans, clubs, communities, researchers, and public health policy makers to improve marketing in sport to promote a healthier entertainment environment for everyone to enjoy.'

    Travis Masterson, Broadhurst Career Development Professor for the Study of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, The Pennsylvania State University, USA 

    'Unhealthy food and tobacco sponsorship has been trendy in sport for a long time and despite attracting media attention, its effects on the general population have not been studied until recently. This book provides an overview on the effects of unhealthy food and tobacco sponsorship in sport using different theoretical lenses and is a must read for academics, students and professionals interested in the world of marketing and brand engagement in sport.'

    Sarthak Mondal, PhD Candidate and Lecturer in Sport Management, University of Portsmouth, UK

    'Dr Ireland offers the first, systematic challenge to the status quo. He incisively interrogates the often taken-for-granted relationships between sports and brands, and exposes the detrimental effects that sport sponsorship can have, illuminating the contradictions between sport-for-health and sport-for-profit. Sport, Sponsorship and Public Health is the starting point to resist harmful sponsorship and get health truly on the agenda for sport. The book traces the historical development of many of these corporate relationships and shows how powerful and problematic sport sponsorship can be. Sport is often considered a healthy, good, and virtuous aspect of society. If sport is to live up to these ideals, then serious questions need to be asked about how sport around the world is currently promoted. This book offers a way forward for governments, sports bodies and researchers to think about and dismantle harmful sponsorship arrangements in sport and create a space for sport for health.'

    Joe Piggin, Senior Lecturer in Policy and Management, Loughborough University, UK 

    'This book is an excellent resource for anyone wishing to know more about the relationship between sports organisations and unhealthy commodities and how this has developed over time. Dr Ireland draws from his years of experience of both working in and studying sports sponsorship from a health perspective to present a fascinating insight into how multi-national corporations profit from the use of sporting teams, events, and individuals to further their own interests. I would recommend this book to anyone wishing to know more about the commercial determinants of health and their relationship with sport.'

    Richard I. Purves, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Social Marketing and Health, University of Stirling, UK