Former England football skipper Wayne Rooney has been criticized by the Church of England for donning a 32Red-sponsored kit while talking about his personal gambling demons in a responsible gaming video.
Christian leaders have expressed that the soccer star was only endorsing the casino. Rooney played his first game for Derby County, thanks to a £7.8m (or $10.25m) deal with Gibraltar-based online gambling operator 32Red.
The first episode of “Stay in Control” saw Rooney open up about his gambling habits in the past and cautioned other players that get sucked in can end up in a really “bad situation.”
The Bishop of St Albans and the Church of England’s gambling spokesman, Dr. Alan Smith, has bashed the soccer star for donning the 32Red logo for the entire episode. He called the video as being “little more than an extended advert” of Rooney’s sponsor.
Smith disclosed: “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. He added:
“The video shows that the gambling industry recognizes the massive problems it is causing.”
A lot of people have already bemoaned Rooney of selling his soul for the £100,000 ($131,142)-a-week salary from his lucrative sponsorship deal with 32Red.
Despite the outrage surrounding the inconsistent messages of the online episode, 17.4 million viewers have seen it as of this writing. Gambling awareness tips in the video include advice to never gamble when bored, tired or stressed; to keep track of all your bets using the bet history feature, and to set deposit limits so you don’t chase your losses.
In a statement, Neil Banbury, who is the UK general manager at 32Red, stressed the brand’s devotion to endorsing “proactive responsible gambling messaging.”
Banbury stated: “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.”
Gambling advertising in soccer has never been more emphasized, and some decriers are wary that it has become the norm for young fans. 27 of England’s top 44 clubs have a gambling firm as their kit sponsor this season.
Last year, Derby County was also bashed when Rooney was tapped to wear the number 32 to match with sponsor 32Red. Prominent UK newspaper The Telegraph labeled the deal as an “embarrassing” publicity stunt.