On Friday 15th February 2019, Inminds Human Rights Group protested outside Puma's London flagship store on Carnaby Street to demand Puma stop its complicity in Israel's war crimes by it sponsorship of apartheid Israel Football Association, which includes football clubs based in illegal Israeli settlements, and which plays its football games on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank.
The protest was in solidarity with over 215 Palestinian sports clubs which on 10th September 2018 called on the world’s third largest sportswear manufacturer, Puma to respect Palestinian human rights and cut ties with the Israel Football Association.
Inminds chair Abbas Ali said "Last year we protested outside Adidas flagship store in London, in solidarity with 130 Palestinian sports clubs who had requested Adidas to stop supporting apartheid war crimes. After sustaining much brand damage Adidas stopped. Rather than learn from that experience, Puma has instead taken over from Adidas and signed a 4 year contract to lend its brand to cover up and whitewash the very same war crimes, which the illegal settlements constitute under international law. Illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land are normalised and legitimised by Puma through its sponsorship. This time 215 Palestinian sports clubs have asked Puma to respect their human rights. So far Puma has just ignored them. Sports is about fair play, Puma through its apartheid sponsorship is promoting racism.
"Last October Puma launched its 'universal equality' #REFORM campaign to mark the 50th anniversary of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s black power, raised fist, salute at the 1968 Olympics, to protest racism and injustice against African-Americans in the United States. Whilst we celebrate Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s courageous commitment to social justice, and sacrifice for the oppressed, we ask them today to once again raise his fists for the oppressed - for the Palestinians. Puma cannot promote 'universal equality' whilst sponsoring apartheid war crimes in Palestine. We urge Puma to heed this call from the oppressed Palestinians and to stop its complicity in Israeli war crimes!
"We are here to tell Puma that there is a price associated with standing with apartheid. Their complicity in Israeli war crimes will cost their brand dearly. We are here to ask Londoners to help Puma make the right decision by boycotting their products until they respect Palestinian human rights. "
Letter from Palestinian Sports Clubs to Puma
To: Bjørn Gulden, CEO of Puma
Cc: Management and Supervisory Board members: Michael Lämmermann, Lars Sørensen, Jean-François Palus, Jean-Marc Duplaix, Béatrice Lazat, Thore Ohlsson, Bernd Illig and Martin Köppel
10 September 2018
We are writing to urge Puma to end its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association (IFA) due to its deep complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.
The IFA sponsors football matches in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, as exposed by Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations. There are six Israeli football clubs located in Israel’s settlements, on stolen Palestinian land, that Palestinians are not allowed to enter. Israel’s settlements contribute to serious human rights abuses and are a direct cause for restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement, access to natural resources and ability to build homes and conduct business.
IFA’s involvement in Israel’s illegal settlements has been condemned by, among others, Wilfried Lemke, the UN special adviser on sport for development and peace, dozens of Members of the European Parliament (MEP), civil society and human rights groups and public figures from the world of arts and culture. Despite these global appeals, the IFA has decided to put politics above sports and refused to end its complicity.
As the main international sponsor of the IFA, Puma is lending its brand to cover up and whitewash Israel’s human rights abuses, including against Palestinian footballers. Palestinian players are routinely attacked, imprisoned and killed. They are denied the freedom of movement to attend their own matches. Palestinian stadiums have been bombed and destroyed. Israel even prevents Palestinians from importing football equipment and developing football facilities.
Puma’s sponsorship of the IFA legitimises and gives international cover to Israel’s illegal settlements. UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016) denounces Israeli settlements as “flagrant violations” of international law. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is compiling a database of companies that do business in or with Israel’s illegal settlements as a practical step for accountability of complicit corporations. Puma’s sponsorship of the IFA would land it on this list based on the selection criteria. In addition, your sponsorship of the IFA, an entity with operations in the settlements, makes Puma complicit and may expose it to consumer-led boycott campaigns in the Arab world and globally.
According to your Code of Ethics, Puma is committed “to human rights and intend[s] to act as a socially responsible company” wherever it operates.
We urge you to abide by your Code of Ethics by withdrawing your sponsorship of the Israel Football Association (IFA) until it ends its involvement in Israel’s grave violations of international law and human rights abuses against Palestinians.