BOXING

Anthony Joshua: Betfred’s boxer tweets broke gambling rules, says ASA

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Three tweets by Betfred featuring Anthony Joshua have been banned for breaching gambling advertising rules.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated the posts shared in March and April promoting a fight.

It said Joshua was likely to strongly appeal to under-18s – which is forbidden by new gambling ad rules.

Betfred, which rejected claims Joshua appealed to children, called the decision “unjust” and said it would demand an independent review.

Last year the ASA, which regulates advertising in the UK on TV, radio and online, updated its rules for promoting gambling.

The new guidelines state that companies cannot appeal to under-18s “by reflecting or being associated with youth culture”.

Betfred’s tweets featured videos of Joshua discussing his diet, his preparation routine and his pre-fight mentality before his bout with Jermaine Franklin.

The company had argued boxing is an “adult-orientated sport” because its late-night matches are mostly streamed pay-per-view and can only be bought by over-18s.

It also said the three tweets weren’t advertising but were “editorial” in nature.

The bookies did admit Joshua is hugely popular across social media, with 29.3m followers worldwide, but argued they were “overwhelmingly adult”.

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However, the ASA found about a million of Joshua’s 15.7m Instagram followers were registered as under-18, as well as 82,000 of his followers on Snapchat.

The watchdog found this to be “a significant number” meaning Joshua was “of inherent strong appeal” to a young audience.

It told Betfred the ads “must not appear again in their current form” and warned it not to use figures who appeal to young people in future.

A Betfred spokesman said the company firmly believed posting the three interviews with Joshua “in no way undermined” its commitment to avoiding strong youth appeal in its marketing.

“It should also be remembered that the ASA did not receive a single complaint from a member of the public about our association with Anthony Joshua in this respect,” he added.

Sky Bet recently had a tweet featuring Gary Neville banned for breaching the same rules.

Even though Neville’s footballing career ended in 2011, the ASA found he too was likely to have a strong appeal to under-18s – something Sky Bet disagreed with.