Melbourne Victory drops shirt sponsor over betting links
Australian A-League football club Melbourne Victory has been forced to drop a new sponsor from its shirt in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League after it was revealed that the company in question may have links to a betting operator.
Victory donned shirts without any main sponsor for the match against Korean side Daegu FC amid concerns that featuring the branding of partner Kaishi Entertainment would breach Asian Football Confederation (AFC) regulations.
AFC rules state that clubs competing in its tournaments cannot carry the name or brand of a gambling company on its shirts.
In the lead up to the game, it came to light that partner Hong Kong-based media agency Kaishi Entertainment seemingly has a relationship with online betting operator KashBet.
Fans on social media flagged various similarities between the two companies, noting that Kaishi Entertainment’s general manager Yi Jing Chen had been pictured promoting the betting brand.
Concerns also raised over how little information was available on Kaishi Entertainment, with a picture of the agency’s supposed chairman on its website in fact a stock image.
Although the AFC cleared the sponsorship deal ahead of the game, Victory took the decision to remove the branding for the game and hold further talks with Kaishi Entertainment before the next round of Champions League games.
“While appropriate due diligence was undertaken prior to the announcement and the AFC approved Kaishi, since that time further information has come to light which raises concerns about Kaishi’s link to an online betting agency, which the club takes very seriously,” Victory said in a statement on its website.
“While Kaishi has represented (and continues to represent) to the club that it is not linked in anyway with betting, given this new information, Melbourne Victory has made the decision to wear a clean strip this evening in their match against Daegu FC.
“We will then work with Kaishi to resolve any concerns we have ahead of our next AFC Champions League clash.
“It is important to note that Melbourne Victory has not and would not actively enter into an agreement with a company in the gambling industry.
“The club respects and adheres to AFC apparel requirements and the brand and integrity of our existing partners.”
In a further blow for Victory, the Australian team fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Daegu FC.