European Alcoho... / Media Centre / Newsletter / 2006 / Issue 2 (July... / News from the M... / Germany: The FIFA World Cup promotes excessive alcohol consumption  

01/06/2006

Germany: The FIFA World Cup promotes excessive alcohol consumption

By the end of the Football World Championships, the Germans could be champions in drinking alcohol.

Judging by the results of a German study, drunkenness could be permanent state of affairs of quite a lot of Germans during the matches of the German team. Recent research carried out by the German Institute for Market research, on behalf of Helpstur, a German Network for Health, showed that the 1008 German respondents, aged between 14 and 59, stated they wanted to drink a lot of alcohol during the national team's matches.

The results are alarming: They predict that over half of spectators (55%) drinks alcoholic beverages during every match played by the German team. The favorite alcoholic beverage is likely to be beer (81%), followed by wine and sparkling wine (38%), and lastly spirits (30%). 20 per cent of this group will drink more than 2 litres of beer per match played by German team. It is predicted that, within the four weeks of the tournament, in which the German national team will have played seven matches, one in five people will have consumed approximately 14 litres of beer.

The most worrying finding of the study is the fact that more than half of spectators (56%) within the 14 to 19 year old age range want to drink an alcoholic beverage during the matches beer and spirits will be the drink of their choice.

The study shows that a significant proportion of people, especially young people, connect sports events with the consumption of alcoholic beverages. It also shows that people in Germany do not take into consideration the health risks associated to their alcohol consumption.

The repercussions are concerning: violence, accidents, intoxication especially among young people, etc. Dr. Behrendt, addiction expert said: “Alcohol consumption during the World Cup increases the rate of people who are at risk and get addicted. Excessive alcohol consumption can have a numerous ramifications other than addiction, the vital organs and brain could be permanently damaged by the regular consumption of 40–70 grams of pure alcohol per day (which is equivalent to 1 litre of beer).

One possible reason explaining these results is the powerful marketing of alcoholic beverages, especially beer, on television, radio and in the printed media. The companies use sports celebrities in their commercials to promote their products. Young people get the impression alcohol and sports (football) are linked, because they particularly identify with the players who are in the commercials.

Experts know that this kind of advertising influences the attitude of people towards a product in a positive way as well as their behavior, in terms of consumption patterns.

The second reason is the availability of alcoholic beverages, because Germany is one of the European countries with lowest price on alcoholic beverages as well as 24 hour availability. It is an open secret that young underage people can purchase alcoholic beverages in gas stations, supermarkets and kiosks easily, because strict age controls are not systematically implemented. The third reason is the public awareness on alcohol, which includes the belief that drinking alcohol is part of lifestyle and alcohol is an ordinary commodity.

Only a few politicians have commented on the current situation. Mrs. Eichhorn, drug commissioner of the Christian Democratic parliamentary made the following comments with regards to young people's increasing use- and misuse- of alcohol:

“It is incomprehensible that famous sports celebrities advertise alcoholic beverages during the football world championship. They give young people the impression that alcohol is linked with sport, which is the wrong message to be sending young people.”

But what should be done? Public health experts have made the following recommendations: restrictions for advertising for alcohol, no advertising with famous sports celebrities or during sports events, enforcement of the law to protect young people, taxes on all alcoholic beverages and public campaigns to rise the awareness to harm done by alcohol. This is only an excerpt of different measures, which can reduce the harm done by alcohol.

Politicians all over Europe are becoming more and more aware of the negative impacts of alcohol consumption. But they need more support and independent information, in order to possibly reduce the strong influence that the “alcohol lobby” has on them.

The results of the study can be found on the following website:

http://www.helpster.de/wmumfrage/

The results are only available in German, but we plan to translate the findings into English and publish them on the Eurocare website.