On Saturday the 26th of October, Wellington Palestine activists – and Palestinian rights activists in Christchurch and Palmerston North – took part in an international day of action against the German sportswear company PUMA. The action was called for by the international BDS movement and over 200 Palestinian sports clubs and associations.
Why were we targeting PUMA? Because the company sponsors the Israel Football Association (IFA) including six Israeli football teams based in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. When Adidas backed out of sponsoring the IFA in 2018, as the result of an international BDS campaign, their rival sportswear company stepped in.
At the heart of the issue is that the football teams the IFA allows to play in the West Bank are located in occupied territory in violation of both international law and the rules of football’s global governing body FIFA. Through its agreement with the IFA, Puma is not only helping to normalize this situation but is also profiting from it.Aubrey Bloomfield (13 June, 2019).
By sponsoring the IFA, PUMA is contradicting its own code of conduct and its position as a signatory of the UN Global Compact, both of which commit PUMA to upholding human rights.
Palestinian football associations and individual athletes are concerned about the support the IFA gives to football teams in illegal settlements on stolen land. They also recognise that the IFA and PUMA are complicit in crimes by the Israeli state against Palestinians. Mahmoud Sarsak, a Palestinian footballer who played for the Palestinian national team, was arrested in 2009 while crossing from Gaza to the West Bank to play a match. He was tortured, held for over 3 years without charge and eventually released after he went on hunger strike for 95 days.
I was not the first and will not be the last Palestinian football player who has been the subject of Israeli repression. Just over a year ago on March 30, 2018, the career of promising young Palestinian football player Muhammad Khalil Obeid was destroyed in a flash when he was shot in both knees by Israeli snipers while he was peacefully protesting as part of the Great March of Return. And in January this year, a number of Palestinian football players were injured when Israeli forces fired tear gas into the stadium they were playing in – for absolutely no reason.Mahmoud Sarsak (6 April, 2019).
Just a few weeks ago, in another political intervention into the world of sport, actions by the Israeli government led to the cancelation of a major Palestinian national football club event known as the FIFA Palestine Cup. A match between clubs in Gaza and the West Bank, was called off when Israel, without offering any explanation, denied travel permits to the Gaza team.
What can you do?
- Refuse to buy any PUMA products until the company ends its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association. Encourage your family and friends to do the same.
- Sign the e-pledge to boycott PUMA.
- Contact local sportswear vendors – such as Rebel Sport, Stirling Sports and Platypus –informing them of the PUMA boycott asking them to raise the matter with PUMA and/or to refuse to stock PUMA products. Bring this open letter to their attention.
- Contact the Silver Ferns, and any other NZ teams or athletes sponsored by PUMA, asking them to use their influence to stop PUMA sponsoring the Israel Football Association or refuse the sponsorship deal. Bring this open letter to their attention.
- Write to PUMA NZ at email@example.com asking them to honour their stated commitments to human rights by ending their sponsorship of the Israel Football Association. Bring this open letter to their attention.
- Join Wellington Palestine. Join the struggle for justice, peace and freedom for the Palestinian people.
With Wellington Palestine branding
Without Wellington Palestine branding
Permission to reblog this post is granted if you include the statement: “First published by Wellington Palestine (2019, 7 October)”
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