Danish bank pulls sponsorship of national team but not over Qatar 2022 human rights concerns

April 9 – Arbejdernes Landsbank, a major partner of the Danish FA (DBU), have pulled their sponsorship of the national team over the quick-loans law with concerns over the Qatar World Cup lingering in the background. 

“It is about the Quick Loan Act and not about Qatar,” said Arbejdernes Landsbank manager Gert Jonassen in a statement on Friday. “We have not gotten out of the sponsorship what we had hoped for because we are not allowed to advertise on the jerseys with Oddset. That is why we are withdrawing now.”

In 2020, Denmark introduced the Quick Loans Act, which led to banks not being allowed to share ad space with betting companies. As a result, the football and sports industry were hit. Arbejdernes Landsbank’s logo was pulled from the national team’s branding, with the bank losing visibility and the DBU no longer fulfilling their contractual obligations. As the law kicked in, friction grew between the bank and the DBU. 

On Thursday, newspaper Weekendavisen reported that the bank had requested an immediate termination of the parties’ sponsorship deal that was supposed to run through until the 2022 World Cup. At the ‘Workers Bank’, there was deep concern as well about the prospect of having to sponsor the national team during the global finals next year in Qatar. Recently, the World Cup hosts have come under renewed scrutiny over their human rights record after The Guardian published a report stating that 6,500 workers have died during construction of World Cup venues. 

Denmark’s largest union 3F holds a stake of 20% in the bank. The Danish national team were among the first to protest the conditions of workers in Qatar with T-shirts displaying the slogan ‘football supports change’ during the recent qualifying triple-header, but those objections did not appease the bank. However, Jonassen’s statement nuanced the importance of the Qatar issue in the bank’s decision to terminate their partnership with the DBU. 

Under pressure from the sports industry, the Danish government has reviewed the Quick Loans Act, but a new legal framework will not come into force before the summer. 

In a statement to Weekendavisen on Thursday, the DBU’s head of communications Jakob Høyer wrote that “We cannot confirm that [the partnership with] Arbejdernes Landsbank has stopped. The bank has an agreement with DBU as a partner for the men’s national team. The bank has – understandably – been dissatisfied with the new law on quick loans, which made it illegal to be marketed together with betting companies. This has affected the partnership for the men’s national team and meant that the bank has not had their name on the training clothes since the summer of 2020. DBU has apologized and entered into separate agreements with the bank.”

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1638367172labto1638367172ofdlr1638367172owedi1638367172sni@o1638367172fni1638367172