In recent weeks there has been a general consensus amongst UK sporting bodies that prohibiting gambling is the only way to root out a number of different issues. Chief among these is match fixing but it’s also interesting that nothing has been mentioned about players that develop a problem with gambling and why they go down that path in the first place.
The Football Association banned any club staff gambling on any game – regardless of their involvement – whilst they’re working in football. It was taken to try and combat the growing problem of match fixing. You get the feeling this might mean the players with a problem will be left behind. You don’t have to go far the find stories of players gambling with huge salaries just to get a “buzz” or more worringly many cite the “boredom” of life as a Premier League footballer as a valid reason.
Matthew Etherington, winger at Stoke City, in an interview with the Daily Mail in 2010 after moving to Tottenham as an 18-year-old said: “I was bored out of my mind.”
Etherington has since been to the Sporting Chance clinic and restarted his career at the Staffordshire club. His early days do go to show that something needs to be done at a higher level to better inform players. A ban will just drive players to gamble on other sports. What it needs is a better support network in the first place.
Clubs now have state of the art academies and a part of their education must include responsible gambling alongside any other vices they decide to look at. By teaching youth players about this form of leisure and entertainment when they’re at that age it’s far less likely they’ll develop a problem later on. It’s not about drumming it into them that all gambling is bad. Problem gambling charity GamCare fully supports the education angle and even recently submitted a document to the government supporting education in schools from a young age.
Dr Patrick Basham agreed that by starting at a later age it’s more likely someone will develop a gambling problem. Whilst we’re not entertaining the idea, they let youth team players go on a bender to the casino to find out how to gamble it might be a good idea to educate them on what all the fuss is about before they start to find out completely on their own.