Row over Cricket Australia sponsor censorship claims

Row over Cricket Australia sponsor censorship claims

Sydney (AFP) - Cricket Australia was Tuesday accused of censoring a sponsorship message warning against mixing alcohol and sport because it conflicts with lucrative drinks deals, media reports said.

The advert was to be displayed around cricket grounds during a domestic one-day competition under way in Sydney, but has been reworded, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said.

The original ad, from public health group Healthway, which sponsors the West Australian Cricket Association, said: "Alcohol -- think again. Alcohol and sport don't mix."

But CA, the governing body for the sport, has insisted on a replacement that reads: "Alcohol -- think again. Under 18 -- no alcohol, the safest choice," the ABC said.

The decision provoked an angry response from Professor Mike Daube of Western Australia's Curtin University, a leading advocate for the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth.

"This is appalling censorship by Cricket Australia," he told Fairfax Media.

"Their priorities are clear. They are keen to protect their alcohol sponsors from messages that might offend them but do nothing to stop alcohol promotion that might offend health-promoting sponsors."

Healthway has a deal with the Western Warriors worth more than Aus$2 million ($1.9 million).

"I think (it) is just outrageous... that Cricket Australia isn't allowing us to put out a very mild message," Daube said.

CA said the Healthway advert was refused not because it conflicted with the messages of other sponsors, but because it conflicted with CA's view that the relationship between alcohol and sport is one of consumption in moderation.

"We believe Australian cricket has a responsible relationship with alcohol," a CA spokesman said.

"It is better to engage with the reality that many fans enjoy a responsible drink than it is to turn them off with a prohibition message they don't believe."