Dubai: One of Australia’s prominent educationists has suggested a total ban on alcohol at sporting events in order to minimise the negative effects on sports.

Professor Margaret Hamilton, from the University of Melbourne, who has more than 40 years experience in the field, was speaking on the penultimate day of the Dubai International Crime Versus Sport Conference being held at the Dubai Police Officers Club. She was speaking on the role of sports clubs, organisers and venues as partners in preventing use of drugs and alcohol at major sporting events.

“Some years back it was decided to do away with sponsorships from tobacco companies. Now it is time for the alcohol companies to follow suit. We simply cannot risk the sponsorship of alcohol at major sports events simply because of the ill effects it has on all, especially on our younger generation,” Hamilton said in her presentation.

“Due to the presence of alcohol at a venue, there are fewer people who feel safe and, consequently, fewer spectators will be present at matches and the sport will suffer. So, part of our responsibility would be to intervene and have a safe environment so that the sport benefits,” she suggested.

A former member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness and an Honorary Professorial Fellow with the University of Melbourne, Hamilton reiterated the need for strong partnerships at the community level. “We need to first realise that alcohol is the number one problem universally, and engaging the community will minimise harm to individuals and society at large. Australia has set up a national drug policy to control use of alcohol and drugs and this is the right step in the right direction,” she said.

Through her vast experience of having worked in the field, Hamilton also saw the need for engaging youth and filling their time with sporting activities. “Our youth need the right direction and correctedness and this can be done through sports as a medium,” she pointed out.

“In Australia, 60 per cent cases are alcohol related and 90 per cent late night calls are alcohol related. The money spent on dealing with such cases could pay the salaries of 1,000 police constables for a full year,” she added.

Held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman Dubai Sports Council, the three-day conference is being held as part of Dubai Police’s social responsibility in ensuring the youth of the country is set on the right path for the future.