Overserving and Allowed Entry of Obviously Alcohol-Intoxicated Spectators at Sporting Events

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2018 Feb;42(2):444-452. doi: 10.1111/acer.13563. Epub 2017 Dec 21.


Background: Alcohol intoxication among spectators at sporting events and related problems, such as violence, are of great concern in many countries around the world. However, knowledge is scarce about whether or not alcohol is served to obviously intoxicated spectators at licensed premises inside and outside the sporting arenas, and if obviously intoxicated spectators are allowed entrance to these events. The objective of this study was therefore to examine the occurrences of overserving at licensed premises inside and outside arenas, and of allowed entry of obviously intoxicated spectators into arenas.

Methods: An observational study assessing the rate of denied alcohol service and denied entry to arenas of trained professional actors portraying a standardized scene of obvious alcohol intoxication (i.e., pseudo-patrons) was conducted. The scene was developed by an expert panel, and each attempt was monitored by an observer. The settings were 2 arenas hosting matches in the Swedish Premier Football League in the largest city in Sweden and 1 arena in the second largest city, including entrances and licensed premises inside and outside the arenas.

Results: The rates of denied alcohol service were 66.9% at licensed premises outside the arenas (n = 151) and 24.9% at premises inside the arenas (n = 237). The rate of denied entry to the arenas (n = 102) was 10.8%.

Conclusions: Overserving and allowed entry of obviously alcohol-intoxicated spectators are problematic at sporting events in Sweden and may contribute to high overall intoxication levels among spectators. The differences in server intervention rates indicate that serving staff at licensed premises inside the arenas and entrance staff are not likely to have been trained in responsible beverage service. This result underscores the need for server training among staff at the arenas.

Keywords: Alcohol Prevention; Community-Based Intervention; Football; Pseudo-Patron; Sporting Events.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Alcoholic Beverages*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication*
  • Anniversaries and Special Events*
  • Humans
  • Licensure
  • Sports*
  • Sweden