The world's oldest football competition the F.A. Cup continues its descent into mediocrity as the Football Association has signed a £24 million sponsorship deal with Budweiser.
America's best-selling 'beer' (over 11 billion bottles per year) continues to seek new ways to shake off its reputation for tasting too weak and tepid to tempt Europeans away from their native brews. The three-year deal sees the great competition renamed as "The FA Cup with Budweiser," amid much talk of brands and promoting the cup overseas, but unless the prize money increases immensely it is hard to see how it can regain the prestige it enjoyed for decades.
Bud has been the exclusive beer of World Cup stadia for years now, a fact bemoaned by fans far and wide and the subject of a major campaign by German supporters before the 2006 tournament. In a pathetic effort to avoid negative associations, Budweiser changed its name inside Germany's 2006 stadia to the more Teutonic sounding 'Anheuser Busch', but the same fizzy drink emerged from the taps. The company is now part of the Belgian-Brazilian giant AB InBev, whose brands include Becks, Hoegaarden, Labatt's and Stella Artois.
Despite the alarming rise in alcohol-related illnesses from Britain's binge-drinking culture, and the obvious appeal of football and advertising to children, the news of Bud's hook-up with the FA confirms the link between football and booze remains strong.
- Sean O'Conor