The university sport environment represents an important target for alcohol industry marketing. This study investigated the nature of relationships between the alcohol industry and university student sports clubs (USSCs).
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with board members from 60 active USSCs in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. Interviews were transcribed and subjected to content analysis using NVivo10.
All invited USSCs participated in the study. Most (n = 53; 88%) reported having signed contracts with the alcohol industry (breweries, in every case) to have their sports events and parties sponsored. The most common sponsorship arrangement involved the supply of discounted beer for sport and student events. T-shirts, beer freezers, and stereo systems were also frequently provided by the alcohol industry to support alcohol-related sports events. In addition, the alcohol industry event promoters helped market the events and products. In return, the USSCs agreed to exclusively sell the sponsors’ brand of beer and/or order and sell a quota of beer at their events. Forty-nine interviewees (81%) reported agreements with alcohol companies whereby open bars (free alcohol events) would also be provided. Despite reporting a range of alcohol harms, participants did not perceive there to be a high risk of harm from the alcohol sponsorship arrangements.
Most USSCs in São Paulo, Brazil, have formalized contracts with the alcohol industry that promote the marketing, sale, and consumption of alcohol at parties and university games. A critical review of the impacts of these practices and university policies on alcohol industry sponsorship that can take account of the role of such arrangements in student drinking is warranted.