Legislators Support Alcohol Sponsorship of Sports

January 20, 2006

THE Libertarian Movement Party has proposed a controversial bill to promote sponsorship of sports activities by alcoholic beverage production companies.

 

The bill would reform Costa Rica’s Alcohol Law by allowing these companies to sponsor government-funded or independent sports events such as soccer matches, and advertise during the events.

 

However, according to Franklin Jiménez, a doctor and Institute of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (IAFA) official, advertising alcoholic beverages during these events is inappropriate given the high number of young people who usually attend them.

 

“It would hurt me very much to think this type of insensitivity could exist in the citizens who represent us,” Jiménez said, referring to the legislators who proposed and support the reform.

 

However, Libertarian legislator Federico Malavassi said his party’s goal is not to make people drink more, but to assist in developing the country’s sports industry, not just private clubs or teams, but all sports in general.

 

The legislator added that it is hypocritical to have bars 50 meters from a stadium, but not allow liquor advertising inside.

 

“Let’s not act overly saintly. Drinking is not bad; what is bad is the excess,” he told The Tico Times, highlighting that “the damage of liquor is (already) done – we (the Libertarians) want to see how we can exploit it.”

 

Malavassi explained the bill does not propose the sale of alcohol inside stadiums, but would merely create ways of obtaining money from alcohol companies to promote sports.

 

Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) legislator Olman Vargas presented a similar bill, which the Assembly’s Permanent Committee of Financial Affairs recently approved, Vargas said.

 

Vargas’ bill also proposes a reform to the Alcohol Law to allow advertising of fermented alcohol drinks, such as beer and wine, at sports events.

 

According to Vargas, alcohol company sponsorship could contribute to solving the financial problems that currently hamper all sports organizations in the country, whether government-funded or independent, he explained.

 

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