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The UK Gambling Commission has apologised for tweeting a GIF of a child celebrating a goal as it sought to promote safer gambling during the World Cup.

The regulator has since deleted the tweet, although another tweet dated 25 November still shows a child celebrating a goal in the crowd at a football match.

The deleted tweet urged users to ensure they were gambling with UK-licensed operators if they wanted to place a bet during the World Cup.

However, the associated GIF pictured a young boy with England flag face paint, which several users pointed out was inappropriate.

Gambling is illegal under the age of 18 in the UK, while the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) also rules out any marketing with a particular appeal to young people and under 18s.

“Throughout the World Cup we have been using social media to highlight how consumers can protect themselves when gambling online,” said the Commission in a statement.

“In error, one of those tweets featured a GIF of a child celebrating at a football game. We realise this was an oversight and undermined an important consumer protection message.

“We apologise to anyone who may have been offended by unintended association and have now deleted the tweet.”

In November, the UKGC said it would increase social media activity during the Qatar tournament to promote safer gambling and raise awareness of risks around gambling harm.

“We recognise that this is one of the world’s largest and most high-profile tournaments and is therefore likely to see an increase in betting activity,” said the UKGC as part of a declaration of gambling regulators including France, Germany, Portugal and Spain.

“As regulators, we have a key role in ensuring that consumers are protected throughout the tournament.”

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