JOEL DE SILVA
Cricket fans at the WACA will face new restrictions on alcohol service this summer but a health professional says the measures do not go far enough.
The new policy will see the bars at the ground open later, ban the serving of jugs in the members’ area and limit drinks sales to one at a time.
The new restrictions are in response to several alcohol-fuelled incidents at the WACA.
In the most recent incident this year a drunken man ran on to the pitch during a one-day international match and tackled Pakistan player Khalid Latif to the ground, injuring him.
Curtin University health policy Professor Mike Daube said the bar’s later opening times did not go far enough.
“If you start at 11am instead of 10am, people can still be sitting there drinking for several hours,” he said.
“If you do that, you are inevitably going to get problems.
“There is an extra problem for sports like cricket, which are sponsored up to their ears by alcohol producers.
“If they are trying to say ‘drink less’ while alcohol is being heavily promoted around the ground, on the screen, on the players’ clothing, they are sending out very mixed messages.”
Professor Daube said the culture of drinking at sporting events was reinforced by alcohol promotion and ultimately the biggest change should be to get rid of alcohol sponsorship, a step the WACA is unwilling to take.
“We have developed a culture where some people go to sporting events to enjoy them, others go there to get drunk, and that’s unhealthy,” Professor Daube said.
“It’s got nothing to do with the quality of the sport, and we need to look back to when a large number of people getting drunk isn’t seen as essential accompaniment to decent sport.”
WACA sponsors include alcohol suppliers Lion Nathan, Pernod Ricard and Johnnie Walker.
Fosters brewery is a major sponsor of Cricket Australia.
Some WACA members have been angered by the new restrictions and by the construction of a net around the field, which they see as an over-reaction that detracts from the experience of the game.
Former WACA member Adam Beavis said the WACA had introduced the new restrictions as a quick fix.
“[It’s] a way to look like they are doing something about the problem when it’s really just stopping paying members from enjoying themselves because of a few people’s actions,” Mr Beavis said.
“Instead of them spending some more money on pitch security, we now have to put up with watching the match through a net.”
Early season games have seen the net trialled in preparation for future international games.
The new regulations are already in place at the WACA.
Published in the Western Independent October 2010