French health minister wants alcohol ban extended to hospitality boxes

French health minister Agnès Buzyn has suggested that the country’s Loi Evin, which prohibits the sale of alcohol in sports stadiums, should be extended to include the alcohol consumption in hospitality boxes.

A relaxation of the legislation, in place since 1991, has been widely discussed in France and 105 MPs from the ruling La République en Marche party last month proposed a law to relax the legislation “in a supervised manner.”

Buzyn reacted to the calls for alcohol sales in stadia by controversially suggesting that the law should be extended.

She told BFM TV: “The question is perhaps rather to take away alcohol from VIP boxes, and in any case certainly not increase its distribution.”

Pressed on the issue, she replied: “Honestly, if the question must be asked, then it’s that one instead.”

The Loi Evin also restricts the advertising and promotion of alcohol at sports venues, with, for instance, the leading European club rugby competition referred to as the H Champions Cup as title sponsor Heineken cannot be directly referenced.

According to Buzyn, any relaxation of the law “would also allow [alcohol] advertisements”, and “clearly it is impossible for me to convey this image of alcohol while sport must express a positive image of public health.”

She added: “It is an ideal time for sport to promote health and make young people want to have the right habits.”

The legislation around alcohol sales in French rugby stadiums is slightly less rigid with clubs allowed to sell alcohol so long as it is alongside food. Football clubs are, however, awarded a certain number of exemptions to the law each year.

Ahead of the 2016 Coupe de la Ligue final, French football’s LFP was at loggerheads with the local authorities in Saint-Denis over alcohol sales. The council authorities decided to revoke the exemption awarded to the LFP, thus ensuring that beer could not be sold at the showpiece game.