Football fans have been warned that the first World Cup to be held outside the summer months could lead to an increase in excessive gambling.
Charity GambleAware and the Football Supporters Association (FSA) have both raised the alarm about the Qatar tournament, which kicks off on Sunday.
“This upcoming tournament is very different for many reasons and one of them is the way we are going to watch it as fans back home,” said FSA President Malcolm Clarke.
“While most summer tournaments see millions of fans watching at outdoor events and at beer gardens, this will not be the case for Qatar 2022.
“With so much great football on TV, fans will be spending a lot of time watching matches from the comfort of their couch – and that’s when the temptation to gamble can start to swell for some.”
Clark suggested practical steps such as deleting apps or setting betting limits to prevent excessive gambling.
“As the cost of living swings and people are feeling the pinch in the run-up to Christmas, this could lead to a ‘perfect storm’ as fans turn to gambling as a way of coping,” said Zoe Osmond, CEO of GambleAware. This can have the opposite effect, both financially and in terms of mental health.”
In Britain, 28% of football fans declared they were worried about how much money they might lose during the World Cup, in a survey published by market research agency Opinium.
Across the English Channel, 96% of French fans plan to watch World Cup matches from their homes, while another 36% claim they will, according to a report by France’s national games authority.
“We do not seek to demonize sports betting but rather warn young people of the dangers of excessive gambling – so that they can understand when sports gambling veers into an unfamiliar side,” said Isabelle Valcke-Perrotin, chair of the authority.