About a week ago, Paddy Power released a new advert for Tottenham Hotspur. The ad is called The Spurs Fan Centre and makes fun of the team’s suboptimal performance and lack of notable achievements.
Miserable Time to Be a Spurs Fan
In its ad, Paddy Power showcases an employee walking the viewers around a fictional “Spurs Fan Center.” The center is almost entirely focused on Arsenal and their bad plays, the employee explained, as it would be “a pretty short experience” if the whole center was dedicated to Spurs’ achievements.
The only room that is dedicated to Tottenham Hotspur seems to be the restroom where photos of the team’s few achievements can be seen. In addition, the club has a dedicated VR room where Spurts fans can don a headset to hide their tears.
However, not everyone was amused.
The Advert Allegedly Mocked People with Autism
According to Level Playing Field, a charity that promotes inclusivity for disabled sports enthusiasts, claims that the ad indirectly makes fun of autistic people. The charity spoke with The Athletic on the matter and explained that the ad essentially refers to the fan center as a “Spurts Sensory Center.”
This may refer to the sensory rooms each Premier League club has. These rooms are essentially where people with autism and other difficulties can enjoy matches. Level Playing Field felt that the ad makes fun of these people with special needs.
The charity noted that the decision to call the fictional club a “sensory center” might just have been poor wording but is seriously undermining the message of the advert regardless.
Level Playing Field’s sentiment was echoed by the National Autistic Society, which believes that Paddy Power’s Tottenham Hotspur ad is nothing more than a “cheap jibe.”
Sensory rooms are not a punchline — they’re an important way to support autistic people and their families to attend big sporting events, like football matches. Without that safe and calming space, they might find the noise and large crowds completely overwhelming.
Tim Nicholls, head of influencing and research, National Autistic Society
Nicholls noted that the efforts to make sports accessible to autistic people should not be made fun of. He added that the National Autistic Society wants a world where everyone can enjoy soccer.
As of the time of this writing, Paddy Power’s controversial The Spurs Fan Centre advert has been taken down from most platforms. However, it is still available on YouTube.