The "relentless involvement of betting companies in football" has drawn a generation of young men into "strongly associating their support for the game with gambling," leading to "dire consequences" for many, a study found, according to David Conn of the London GUARDIAN. The explosion in marketing and sponsorship since the last Labour government deregulated gambling in '05, combined with the "ease of online betting via smartphones," has resulted in the "gamblification" of watching football, according to research conducted by Dr. Darragh McGee of the University of Bath. McGee spent two years "working closely with two groups of football supporters aged 18-35 in Bristol and Derry," recording their gambling habits in depth, in a research project funded by the British Academy. His findings "include some of the young men telling him they can no longer watch a football match unless they have multiple bets;" commonly they have up to 25 accounts with online gambling companies, and their football conversations with mates "are all about betting, rather than the game." Participants said that the gambling companies' marketing "is extremely effective," particularly the offers of "free" bets, and that their losses "did not feel like real money because they are placed so casually on a phone and no longer involve going to a bookmaker’s shop." One told McGee the "buzz" of gambling is "up there with sex and drugs and rock’n’roll." That supporter said, "And I think because of that, gambling is the worst addiction of the lot." As McGee came to know the groups, he "found the intensity of the online gambling culture in football has had catastrophic impacts on many of the participants." He said, "In particular, for young men who find themselves deprived of viable routes to employment opportunities, gambling promises an alternative route to wealth, social capital and masculine affirmation, yet most end up ensnared in a cycle of indebtedness." McGee welcomes the proposed whistle-to-whistle advertising ban as "a step in the right direction" but said, "A generation of young people already view gambling as a normalized part of sport" (GUARDIAN, 1/10).
ManU paid José Mourinho's £15M ($19M) compensation package "immediately after he was sacked," according to David Woods of the London DAILY MAIL. The 55-year-old was dismissed on Dec. 18 after two-and-a-half seasons in charge. The fact that he received the payoff on his departure from Old Trafford means "he is free to return to management." A source close to Mourinho said, "There are no issues over José's contract with Manchester United. Everything has been sorted." The improved contract ManU agreed to with Mourinho a year ago was due to run until the end of the '19-20 season, with an option of a further season (DAILY MAIL, 1/9).
GRAB THE MIC: Mourinho will join beIN Sports as part of the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup 2019 and Premier League coverage across Middle East and North Africa. In his first TV appearance since leaving ManU, the former Chelsea, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Porto manager will be part of a panel of expert analysts based in beIN Sports' studios. He will giving his opinions for the Asian Cup group stage match between Qatar and Saudi Arabia on Jan. 17 as well as the EPL match between Arsenal and Chelsea on Jan. 19 (beIN Sports).
Real Madrid's Copa del Rey match against Leganés on Wednesday drew the "worst attendance" of the season at the Santiago Bernabéu with a crowd of 44,231. Real Madrid won the match 3-0. The club is currently in fifth place in La Liga and trails first-place Barcelona by 10 points (MARCA, 1/9).
The Spanish Footballers' Association (AFE) said that "at no time" did it request the exclusion of Spanish second division side Reus for the rest of the season. The AFE said in a statement that it is "awaiting the resolution from La Liga's judge of Social Discipline regarding the disciplinary investigation of Reus" (EFE, 1/10).