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Kirk demands crackdown on sports adverts

THE Church of Scotland is calling for a ban on advertising gambling in sport amid concern about the "damaging effect" on the lives of thousands of people.

CHURCH CAMPAIGN: Hearts are sponsored by loan firm Wonga.
CHURCH CAMPAIGN: Hearts are sponsored by loan firm Wonga.

It also recommends that pay-day loan companies should be forbidden from advertising in football, rugby and other sports in a report published ahead of the Commonwealth Games which calls for a lasting legacy from such events, particularly for deprived areas.

Glasgow 2014 has no such sponsors but Scottish Premiership side Hearts are sponsored by loan firm Wonga, while Rangers recently announced a new shirt sponsorship with online casino 32Red.

Concerns, meanwhile, are to be raised over sexism and prejudice towards people who are disabled in a debate with sports stars tonight. Among those addressing the issues at the Edinburgh International Science Festival event will be former Scotland rugby international Scott Hastings and Paralympian Anne Wafula-Strike.

Reverend Sally Foster-Fulton, convener of the church and society council, said the report revealed deep concerns.

She said: "In producing this report ahead of the Commonwealth Games, we commend the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee for valuing equality and encourage it in fulfilling its aim for equality for all, and also urge that a lasting legacy from the Glasgow 2014 Games is seen, particularly in deprived areas.

"We also urge the Scottish and UK Governments and sporting bodies to implement measures designed to reduce hazardous and harmful gambling and to impose a ban on advertising gambling in the context of sports.

"The normalisation of gambling has been proven to have a damaging effect on the lives of thousands across Scotland.

"Some may see our stance as radical but we believe it is necessary to improve the quality of life for people living in this country."

The report also included statistics about apparent sexism in the sector, including the fact that women's sport receives just 0.5% of commercial sponsorship.

It said: "Only 5% of sports media coverage is of sportswomen, and sexism still exists in some quarters of the media.

"Only 21 of the 101 active members of the International Olympic Committee are women.

"Competitive sport may not be deemed to be 'cool' for teenage girls in the way it is for boys.

"More women leaders at all levels are needed to encourage girls to see competitive sport as something for them."

The report continues: "Those from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups are significantly less likely to participate in sport, particularly at club level, than their white counterparts. There is also under-representation of BME groups in management, administrative and official positions.

"Equality is one of the three values that underpin the philosophy of the Commonwealth Games Federation, the organisation responsible for the Games.

"While this is to be welcomed, equality of opportunity at ground level, particularly for disabled athletes, still has some way to go.

A Glasgow 2014 spokeswoman said: "Glasgow 2014 is set to be the biggest and most inclusive Commonwealth Games yet, with additional events for female and para-sport athletes within a fantastic sports programme of more than 250 medal events across 17 sports and over 11 days of competition.

"Humanity, Equality and Destiny are the core values of the Commonwealth Games movement, and are therefore central to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games."

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