Puma ends sponsorship with Israel’s national football team due to growing controversy

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In a surprising move, Puma, the German sportswear giant, has announced the termination of its sponsorship deal with Israel’s national football team, effective next year. The decision, revealed by a Puma spokesperson on Tuesday, predates the recent Hamas attack on October 7.

The spokesperson clarified that the resolution was part of Puma’s overarching strategy coined as the “fewer-bigger-better strategy,” initiated in 2022. This strategy focuses on consolidating sponsorships and aligning with regular timelines for designing and developing team jerseys. The contracts of several federations, including Serbia and Israel, will conclude in 2024, making them among the last teams to be part of Puma’s portfolio.

The Financial Times initially reported this development, shedding light on the intricacies of Puma’s business strategy rather than any direct response to geopolitical events.

However, the decision has been met with increased scrutiny due to the context surrounding Puma’s association with Israel. The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement had been advocating for a boycott of Puma over its sponsorship of the Israeli team even before the October 7 attack. The movement’s call for a boycott gained momentum and wider support, expanding beyond Puma to other firms and products following Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip triggered by the deadly Hamas attack in southern Israel.

While Puma maintains that the decision was made independently of these events and is part of a broader business strategy, critics argue that the timing and the ongoing geopolitical situation suggest a more complex interplay of factors.

As Puma prepares to unveil new sponsorships for two national teams, including a statement team, later this year and in 2024, the company finds itself navigating not only the competitive landscape of sportswear but also the delicate terrain of international politics and public opinion. The fallout from this decision could potentially have broader implications for how corporations engage with geopolitical issues in the future.

(Source: Financial Times | Reuters | Bloomberg)

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