On July 29th, the Government and Administration Commission of the Legislative Assembly endorsed Bill 21,663 on Sponsorship by Alcoholic beverages companies in National Sports. This is an initiative initially presented by Otto Guevara when he was a deputy in 2015, and which is currently promoted by the Social Christian Erwen Masís. This bill would change Law 21.663 and would allow companies that produce, distribute and market alcoholic beverages to sponsor their brands in stadiums, gyms, sports centers, associations, federations, uniforms, and the National Olympic Committee (CON). The only prohibition would be to place the brand logo on minor league uniforms.
For Deputy Masís, opening this opportunity generates new resources, promotes the exercise of healthy practices, and strengthens the sports infrastructure. “In Costa Rica, there is plenty of talent in many sports disciplines. We see it every day when athletes excel in surfing, volleyball, taekwondo, and many more. We all witnessed when Noily Salazar, an athlete of Cabecar origin, without resources to buy a suitable pair of tennis shoes, managed to qualify for a world championship. These dedicated and hard-working athletes are the beneficiaries of this project, which will give them an opportunity for these brands to sponsor their talent and, in turn, allow them a showcase to continue raising the name of our country,” said Masís.
Distribution of money collected
According to the final opinion of the project, the sponsors must declare to the Ministry of Health the amount agreed in each sponsorship contract and will retain 10% of the total economic amount of the contract, which would later be distributed in: 2% for attention to drug use, 2% in obesity prevention and 6% in equipment for athletes.
In case of non-compliance with the declaration, the sanction will be twice the amount left to declare to the Ministry. This money will correspond 50% to the Ministry of Health and the other 50% to the Costa Rican Institute of Sports and Recreation (ICODER). The Health portfolio would be in charge of the regulation and control of all types of commercial advertising, and all control would be done before its disclosure.
Ministry of Health proposes other alternatives
According to Dr. Andrea Garita, director of the Planning Directorate of the Ministry of Health, Costa Rica has been an international benchmark country for the health indicators it has maintained. “It is precise because in our country the regulation on alcohol advertising and sponsorship is extremely solid. Law 9,047 regulates this aspect and gives the Health Ministry power to control all types of advertising on this matter,” Garita stressed.
The doctor acknowledged that at this time the country is going through an economically complicated situation and that sports entities are affected by COVID-19. However, it alleged that there are other sources by which they can access resources.
“A short time ago the modification of the law that regulates tobacco consumption in the country was made, and the resources received by ICODER with this law were increased. Another initiative that could be valued – and that has been done in other countries – is the tax on alcoholic beverages. Many options can be explored and that have the potential to benefit this type of organization and not necessarily by promoting alcoholic consumption that carries a very negative impact on the health of the population,” said the director of the Planning Department.
However, for Deputy Masís, the generation of new and fresh resources is urgent. “Imposing new taxes is not the way to generate this income. The challenge we must face is to be creative, promote and strengthen new mechanisms for the generation of wealth in all sectors, including sports,” said the Christian Socialist.
Dr. Garita commented on what the implementation of this law would mean. The health expert highlighted the impact of exposing minors to what naturally see alcohol consumption, especially seeing their favorite soccer players promoting alcohol consumption.
“They are subliminal messages that permeate a child’s mind and create a culture in our country, where they will come to see alcohol consumption as something natural. We are concerned that this project continues to advance, because of the message that we could give to our children and the population in general. A risk factor is being promoted in a population that already has an important prevalence in chronic non-communicable diseases,” said Dr. Garita.
At The Costa Rica News, we agree with the warning issued by Dr. Garita, about the danger for the health of our population and especially our youth, all Costa Rican society must rise against this proposed Bill and declare a strong NO to be heard by the National Assembly.