On November 15, 2023, online sports betting giant Bet365 removed soccer player Steven Caulker from a sports broadcast it sponsored due to his vocal stance on problem gambling. The journeyman center-back, who is currently without a club and pursuing a career as a TV and radio pundit, expressed his disappointment with Bet365’s decision on LinkedIn. He stated that the company rejected his profile because they were “nervous about some of the positive work I have done around problem gambling.”
Caulker’s career has been plagued by struggles with gambling, alcohol, and depression, which he has openly discussed. He revealed that he has been in and out of rehab since his teens and attributed his squandered opportunities and unfulfilled potential to his personal demons. Despite playing for prominent teams like Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, QPR, and Cardiff City, his promising career never fully materialized. Additionally, he captained Sierra Leone, a team he qualifies to play for through his paternal grandfather.
In response to Bet365’s decision, the company clarified that Caulker had applied to appear on a video series sponsored solely by the gambling firm. They acknowledged Caulker’s commendable efforts in raising awareness of problem gambling but expressed that it would be inappropriate for him to appear on a Bet365-sponsored series due to his negative experiences with gambling.
Despite the setback, Caulker is focused on obtaining his coaching badges and aspiring to become a manager. He believes that his experiences as an addict will make him a better coach as he can empathize with the pressures young players face. Looking back on his playing career, he expressed regret and aims to avoid making the same mistakes as a manager. Overall, Caulker remains determined to use his experiences to positively impact the next generation of athletes.