Melbourne Victory will wear a clean strip tonight in their AFC Champions League opener against Daegu, after new front-of-shirt sponsor Kaishi Entertainment was linked to offshore gambling company Kashbet.
The club welcomed the Hong Kong-based organisation as a partner on Tuesday morning – an official media release describing Kaishi Entertainment as a “media agency who provide advertising, public relations, brand strategy, events, and digital marketing services across Asia.”
However, after receiving widespread criticism on social media, Victory have announced they will remove the logo from their kits for tonight’s game.
“While appropriate due diligence was undertaken prior to the announcement and the AFC approved Kaishi, since that time further information has come to light which raises concerns about Kaishi’s link to an online betting agency, which the club takes very seriously,” the club announced via a statement.
“While Kaishi has represented (and continues to represent) to the Club that it is not linked in anyway with betting, given this new information, Melbourne Victory has made the decision to wear a clean strip this evening in their match against Daegu FC.
“We will then work with Kaishi to resolve any concerns we have ahead of our next AFC Champions League clash.
“It is important to note that Melbourne Victory has not and would not actively enter into an agreement with a company in the gambling industry. The club respects and adheres to AFC apparel requirements and the brand and integrity of our existing partners.”
According to FTBL Editor Kevin Airs, the endorsement means Victory risk incurring serious financial penalties from the Australian Government.
“The implications if they were to be found to be inciting any Australians to gamble offshore are huge – there’s a maximum fine of $1.8 million a day!” Airs told Evenings on FNR.
“Whether the logo on the shirt would constitute that is very much up for question, but they seem to have put themselves in a position where it looks dodgy.
“And for all Victory’s protestations, the ties between Kaishi Entertainment and ‘Kb88’ – as Kashbet trade as – seem to be pretty strong.”
Kaishi Entertainment and Kashbet have identical logos and slogans, were founded in the same year, and appear to have the same Chairman – whose online profile is accompanied only by a stock photo.
In addition, the same female employee in attendance at the Victory launch has been pictured announcing Bayer Leverkusen’s partnership with Kb88.