Renowned footballer Wayne Rooney has been scolded by the Church of England for appearing to endorse an online casino in a video that warns against the dangers of gambling.
Rooney, who used to play as England’s captain, fielded his first game for Derby FC on Thursday as part of a sponsorship deal with a gambling firm called 32Red, which is based in Gibraltar. In addition to being sponsored by the firm to play matches, Rooney has also agreed to appear in a number of 32Red's social media advertisements. The most recent video ad, which has gone viral, appears to be an attempt to advise fans on how to gamble sensibly.
In the video, Rooney offers up advice such as cautioning that those who get “sucked in” can find themselves in a “bad situation.” The video also warns potential punters to “never gamble when bored, tired or stressed” and to “set deposit limits so you don’t chase your losses.”
The video was shared with Rooney’s and Derby FC’s staggering combined 17.4 million followers on Twitter.
— 32Red (@32Red) 1 January 2020
The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, who is the Church of England’s Gambling spokesman, decried the recent video in comments to the Daily Mail, saying that it “is little more than an extended advert, associating 32Red with Wayne Rooney, who is wearing their logo from start to finish.”
“Wayne Rooney's simplistic solutions will be of little help to those who have already experienced harm from products campaigners say are designed to be addictive. The video shows that the gambling industry recognises the massive problems it is causing,” he added.
Back in August 2019, it was announced that as part of Rooney’s signing with Derby County FC, a segment of his £100,000 weekly wage was to be paid by the online casino and that he would be wearing a number 32 jersey while playing.
At that time, Dr Smith also expressed the Church of England’s rejection of Rooney’s associating with 32Red, telling the Daily Mail at the time that, “football needs to wake-up to the fact their shirt sponsorship deals will have a negative impact on the welfare of many of their fans, particularly children.”
32Red has recently issued a statement in its defence, with Neil Banbury, the company’s UK General Manager, quoted by the Mail as saying that, “32Red is committed to using its branding opportunities within football to promote proactive responsible gambling messaging. English football – and prominent players like Wayne – has a unique reach and cut through with adult audiences, so is a great way to promote healthier gambling.”
A number of Twitter users also expressed their thoughts on Rooney’s Tweet sharing the 32Red video.
— Compulsive Gambler (@Freefromgamblin) January 1, 2020
— Jimmy Justice (@gondorffhenry) January 2, 2020
— Steve Ramsey (@Stevera16980031) January 2, 2020