Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:57pm EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg and Anjali Athavaley

(Reuters) - Anheuser-Busch publicly chastised the National Football League on Tuesday for its handling of domestic violence cases, making the NFL's official beer sponsor the first major advertiser to put pressure on America's most popular sports league.

In a brief but strongly worded statement, Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser and NFL official beer Bud Light, said it was "disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season.

"We are not yet satisfied with the league's handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code."

The company, owned by Belgian-Brazilian group Anheuser-Busch InBev, said it had shared its concerns and expectations with the 32-team league, a TV ratings juggernaut that brings in $9 billion in annual revenue.

"We understand," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said of the Anheuser-Busch remarks. "We are taking action and there will be much more to come."

Another NFL sponsor and mainstay of American culture, McDonald's Corp, said it also communicated its concerns to the league and expects the NFL "to take strong and necessary actions to address these issues."

Visa Inc, Campbell's Soup Co and Procter & Gamble's cosmetic's unit Covergirl also issued similar statements this week.

The rebuke from Corporate America could raise pressure on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, already struggling to make amends after his initial light punishment of former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice for punching his then-girlfriend, now his wife, in February.   Continued...

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice warms up during the NFL's Super Bowl XLVII football practice in Metairie, Louisiana in this February 1, 2013 file photo.  REUTERS/Sean Gardner/Files