More than 130 Palestinian football clubs and sports associations have urged German sportswear giant Adidas to end its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association (IFA), citing the latter’s inclusion of football clubs based in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
In a letter to Adidas CEO Kasper Rørsted, the Palestinian clubs cautioned that as “the main international sponsor of the IFA, Adidas is lending its brand to cover up and whitewash Israel’s human rights abuses” and giving “international cover to Israel’s illegal settlements”.
The clubs’ letter cites UN Security Council Resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlements and cautions Adidas that its sponsorship of the IFA “makes it eligible for inclusion in the UN’s database of complicit companies doing business in or with Israel’s illegal settlements”.
According to a press release by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), the letter also warns Adidas that the company’s continued complicity with Israeli settlements “may expose it to consumer-led boycott campaigns in the Arab world and globally”.
Speaking in support of the campaign, former Palestinian national team player Mahmoud Sarsak described how he was “jailed by the Israeli occupation for three years without charge or trial and released only after a 96-day hunger strike and worldwide outcry”.
While Palestinian players “run this risk” all the time, Sarsak continued, “the IFA holds matches in illegal Israeli settlements, which rob us of our land, water, resources and livelihoods”.
PACBI’s Hind Awwad said:
Adidas relies heavily on football league and club sponsorships to raise its brand awareness. However, being associated with the IFA as it tramples Palestinian rights will implicate Adidas in Israel’s egregious human rights violations, including illegal settlements, home demolitions, and land grabs throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.
“In 2016, Adidas ended its sponsorship of the International Association of Athletics Federations, regarding the doping and corruption scandals plaguing the organisation as a breach of the contract. Surely involvement in Israeli settlements built in violation of international law should be grounds for ending sponsorship of the IFA. Adidas has a responsibility to do the right thing and heed the call from Palestinian footballs clubs to end its sponsorship of the IFA.”
PACBI has also launched a petition calling on Adidas to end its IFA sponsorship as “Palestinian children and their families are being pushed from their homes” to give way to the illegal settlements hosting IFA league matches.