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Call for lifting of alcohol ban in sports

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Alcohol has been key sports development in some countries
When the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Russia, the most visible brand was that of the Budweiser beer.

Budweiser has served as an official beer sponsor of the FIFA World Cup for over 25 years, and has an ongoing commitment through the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

In Botswana, the COSAFA Castle Cup could not be held due to alcohol advertising, which is not allowed.

Government does not permit alcohol brands sponsoring or advertising in sports. But with new President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, promising to review laws or policies which impede development, the ban might be revisited. 

Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) chairperson, Solly Reikeletseng said he was against the ban and wants it lifted.

“We need sponsors and alcohol companies are some of the biggest sponsors. The alcohol industry can assist in supporting sports,” he said.

On the other hand Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) chief executive officer, Tuelo Serufho believes the government should dedicate a certain percentage of the Alcohol Levy to sports.

Serufho said sport keeps the youth away from alcohol and other social ills. Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) president, Tshepho Bathai said they used to have the Carling Black Label Karate Championship, but it was discontinued due to the alcohol ban.

“There has been budget cuts from BNSC this year but if we had such sponsorships they

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could be taking us forward. In South Africa, the national cricket team is sponsored by Castle Lager. The team has Muslims but there are ways in which they are catered for. The same thing can happen here,” Bathai said.

Africa Netball president, Tebogo Lebotse- Sebego said she would support a review of the ban. She noted that in South Africa, Brutal Fruit cider is the main sponsor of the netball league. “Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League is big and produces the finest players for the national team,” she said.

Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) president, Lesedi Keekae also advocates for the ban to reversed. 

“We can promote healthy, active lifestyles using the right messages in sport through those proceeds from alcohol businesses, the same way as we wanted the alcohol levy to build rehabilitation centres and give support to victims,” Keekae said. 

He bases his argument on the fact that in other industries, companies such as oil businesses, set aside funds for green projects to assist communities deal with negative impacts. 

“Alcohol is as bad as fizzy drinks by the way. It is the same as burning fuel pollutes the environment but their proceeds are accepted,” Keekae added.



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