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AB InBev ‘concerned’ over Ray Rice case

One of the National Football League’s biggest sponsors, AB InBev, has announced it is “concerned” with the way a high-profile domestic abuse case has been handled by the league.

The beer giant is one of the NFL’s biggest sponsors, with its Budweiser and Bud Light brands in particular being associated with the sport, and is the latest to express an opinion of the handling of the Ray Rice domestic abuse case.

The beer giant signed a six-year sponsorship deal with the NFL in 2011 worth US$1.2 billion. During the last five Super Bowls, AB InBev is estimated to have spent some £149m in advertising.

Having declined to comment on the case until now, a spokesman recently said: “We are 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 behaviours that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.”

Ray Rice was a running back for the Baltimore Ravens who was accused of abusing his then girlfriend (and now wife), Janay Palmer, in Atlantic City in February of this year.

A video emerged of Rice hauling the clearly unconscious Palmer from a lift in their hotel and although the allegations that Rice had hit were undoubtedly true, Palmer claimed it was an incident that both parties “regretted” and the indictment of third-degree aggravated assault charges were dropped when Rice agreed to undergo court supervised counselling.

NFL commissioner, Roger Goddell, handed down a paltry two game suspension – less than the penalty Rice would have got had he been caught driving while intoxicated or smoking marijuana.

Rice’s franchise could have added to with further suspensions and even a fine but did not. The couple, who were engaged at the time, married a short time later.

Then, in early September, TMZ published a video showing the couple going into the lift and the subsequent attack inside it in which Palmer, lunging at Rice during the course of what appears to be an argument, is knocked sideways by Rice with a blow to the head, which she in turn hits on a railing as she collapses and then is dragged from the lift by Rice – the part of the video seen when the case came to light.

Despite protestations that the actual video of the attack had not been seen by the NFL prior to handing down Rice’s punishment, the Ravens dropped him from their squad and the league has suspended him indefinitely.

Responding to the announcement, the NFL issued a statement saying that it “understands” the concerns and is “taking action”.

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