In late July 2021, or exactly 1 year before Puma’s 4-year sponsorship of the Israel Football Association (IFA) comes to an end in July 2022, The Gaza Fund wrote to 3 separate organisations asking them to re-evaluate their association with Puma, a sports brand that uses its association with these reputable groups (within its annual report and website) to brandish its ESG, SDGs and gender rights credentials among its stakeholders and investors.
- Fair Labour Association is helmed by a group of former experts in refugee rights and human security issues and are known for their stand on many human rights issues and human rights advocacy campaigns. Puma is proud of its membership in this association.
- Win Women Inc., is helmed by a small but notable group of individuals passionate about human and gender rights issues. The organisation has participated in many advocacy campaigns focused on gender rights and social change for women and girls and strongly believes in the empowerment of women and girls via sports. Puma capitalises well on its association, from a sports marketing point of view with Win Women Inc., when in reality, it does the opposite for the voiceless Palestinians female athletes.
- Fashion Revolution is the founder and producer of the Fashion Transparency Index, aimed at listing companies that are committed to SDGs, gender equality and female empowerment. Puma is listed as one of the companies on the index, but the way Puma enables Israeli human rights violations against the voiceless Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories should be taken into account.
|OUR ONLY CONCERN IS POWER OF SPORT TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER||PUMA SUPPORTS ISRAEL’S ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS RIPPING PALESTINIAN FAMILIES APART.|
|WE DON’T SUPPORT ANY POLITICAL DIRECTION OR GOVERNMENTS||PUMA SPONSORS THE ISRAEL FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION, WHICH LOBBIES ON BEHALF OF TEAMS IN ILLEGAL ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS|
For a quick summary of key talking points:
- This is a human rights issue;
- PUMA has been widely criticised for its four-year sponsorship (2018-2022) with the Israel Football Association (IFA) by a large number of NGOs and civic rights NGOs;
- The IFA is a sports grouping that includes teams from Israel’s illegal settlements, built on stolen Palestinian land in continuing violation of a litany of international laws;
- The IFA….has racially segregated part of its national children’s league, incurring legal action. It has never once disciplined Beitar Jerusalem FC for that club’s longstanding apparent ban on the hiring of Arab players, or taken serious action to curb the notorious anti-Arab violence of its supporters. (Source: The Guardian);
- Hundreds of civil society groups including UN advisers, dozens of elected officials, public figures and civil society and human rights NGOs have repeatedly condemned IFA’s complicity in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise;
- PUMA PR machinery will claim sports is above politics but has said or done nothing to address the same issue of Palestinians living under Israel’s brutal occupation that PUMA’s sponsorship enables;
- Palestinian athletes are surrounded by Israeli roadblocks, separation walls, segregated roads and settlements, continually subjected to humiliating military checkpoints while matches get interrupted and raided by armed soldiers and sports pitches shrink in size by ever-expanding illegal settlements. (Source: Aljazeera);
- By sponsoring and thus, lending credibility to a name closely associated with the illegal occupation, PUMA in its association with the IFA has repeatedly chosen to stand shoulder to shoulder with a regime that has been widely condemned for oppressing against voiceless athletes and their families living under the illegal occupation of West Bank and East Jerusalem today;
- PUMA’s sponsorship of the IFA, and the international legitimacy that it callously grants, is nothing short of a tacit endorsement of Israel’s expansion of illegal settlements (sports-washing Israel’s system of oppression); &
- PUMA falsely claims to support human rights and labor rights yet, evidence suggest it egregiously supports a football association that is an apartheid enabler, to paraphrase reports by numerous human rights and civil society groups.
Either Israel is lying or Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and 30+ NGOs and human rights groups are.
On 3 August 2021, Fashion Revolution wrote back saying they welcome engagement from civil society groups. They also clarified Fashion Revolution does not endorse any single brand listed within the Fashion Transparency Index. Furthermore, removing Puma would only reduce accountability and scrutiny, including on a range of human rights issues.
On 5 August 2021, we thanked Fashion Revolution for their detailed response and clarification and suggested they consider launching a benchmark index that ranks the most egregious companies from among the world’s largest and most powerful consumer brands, so that companies that pretend to care will be shone the unwanted spotlight. We hope Fashion Revolution or another credible organisation will consider looking into this idea.
A KEY QUESTION NOW IS, DOES PUMA RENEW ITS 4-YEAR CONTRACT WITH IFA IN JULY 2022 OR LEARN FROM ITS MISTAKES?