Why Is Puma Really Ending Its Partnership With Israel’s National Football Team?

Puma has announced that it will end its sponsorship of Israel’s national football team next year after the sportswear company was accused of support supporting Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Puma is the world’s third-biggest sportswear company, overshadowed by Adidas and Nike.

According to an internal memo, the company will no longer be providing the Israel team with a kit once the contract has finished with the Israel Football Association.

The brand has been criticised for supporting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, considering the Israel Football Association has clubs in them. In response to the allegations, Puma has recognised that it only sponsors the national football squad.

Although the pro-Palestine Boycott, Divest From, and Sanction Israel movement, widely known as BDS, claimed that the decision to terminate the partnership was prompted by its long-standing calls for a boycott of the brand, Puma denied the allegations.

On X, formerly Twitter, the BDS campaign wrote: “We have forced [Puma] to abandon its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association.”

Instead, the German brand said that the decision to terminate the partnership was signed last year and it was not related to any criticisms or boycott calls.

In a statement to news reporters, a spokesperson for Puma also noted that the end of the contract marks part of the brand’s new “fewer-bigger-better” business strategy.

“The review of the existing roster of national teams along certain KPIs such as commercials and participation in major international tournaments led to a few changes,” the statement continued.

In 2022, Puma lost its most prominent football partnership agreement with Italy to its rival sportswear brand, Adidas.

Reports document that the BDS has been linked to the funding of Hamas in Gaza.

In the statement, Puma also noted that a sponsorship deal with Serbia’s football squad will also be expiring in 2024 as the company plans to announce two new sponsorship deals later this year and in 2024.

One of the new partners is considered a high-profile football squad, the German sportswear brand said.

The Israel Football Association also denied that the end of the sponsorship was prompted by the BDS’s longstanding calls for a boycott.

The football association called it a “pathetic attempt… to mislead”, noting that it was given the option to extend the Puma partnership until 2026.

The Israel Football Association said that it declined the contract extension in September after the brands failed to reach an agreement on improved terms and conditions.

In regard to the termination being based entirely on financial reasons, Puma said that it will also “discontinue to work with some other national teams”, specifically with football associations “where we have simply not been able to agree on the terms to extend the partnerships”.

After its contract ends with Serbia next year, the sportswear brand will continue to “evaluate all other existing partnerships as well as any other upcoming opportunities to ensure we have a strong roster of national teams,” the internal document said.

Since Hamas’ on-the-ground massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7, Puma has been criticised by consumers for its alleged support of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Israel’s relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip has killed more than 18,400 people – according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

The BDS campaign group, which has been criticised for using inflammatory terms like “apartheid”, “genocide” and “settler colonialist” when referring to Israel, has recently targeted several Israeli companies.

Other non-Israeli corporate giants have also been targeted, including Puma and Starbucks, for being alleged supporters of Israel.

Since November 16, the world-renowned coffee company, Starbucks, reported that it has lost around $11 million in market shares to boycott protests.

The decline in funds makes up roughly a tenth of the company’s total market value, according to Bloomberg.

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