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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Qatar football clubs urged to boycott Puma over Israeli violations


Calls to boycott companies complicit in Israeli crimes against Palestinians have revived in recent weeks.

An independent pro-Palestinian youth body in Qatar has urged football fans to apply pressure on their local clubs to  Puma due to its involvement with Israel.

Qatar Youth Opposed to Normalisation [QAYON] took action against the global sportswear manufacturer after earlier this month after deadly Israeli aggression against Palestinians left 248 dead, including 66 children.

The youth group said it initially sent a total of seven separate letters to each of the local Qatari teams, which don Puma kits, on May 20th but failed to receive a response.

In each letter, QAYON acknowledged each team’s support to Palestinians, including public acts of solidarity on the pitch, and explained the reasons behind the global boycott movement against Puma.

“[Puma] is involved in supporting the crimes of the occupying Zionist entity. This is exemplified by its sponsorship of the Football Association, which represents the occupation, and of a number of Zionist entity’s clubs that practice their activities in the settlements built on the occupied Palestinian territories,” read one part of the letter.

The letter went on to explain the important of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] movement in light of recent Israeli attacks on Palestinians, noting that more than 200 other sports clubs have called on Puma to disengage from the Israeli Football Association.

“We regret that not all of these clubs responded to the messages, and therefore we call on everyone involved in the resistance movement against Zionist settlements to contact these clubs and demand that they cancel their contracts with Puma, which supports the settlers, or not to renew their contracts in the future,” tweeted the group on Saturday.

Read also: ‘It’s not Israel-Hamas’: Qatar’s Lolwah Al-Khater takes aim at ethnic cleansing of Palestine

The group also called for acting under Law No. 13] of 1963 of the Office for Boycott of Israel in Qatar, which prohibits any agreement with agencies or individuals residing or working for Tel Aviv.

“Puma is an example of a company operating in the interest of an occupying entity,” added the group’s latest statement.

Puma boycott movement

The Qatari youth body is not the first to call for the boycotting of the sports brand. The global BDS movement has called for similar action against Puma and other brands for several years.

In recent years, the peaceful movement has achieved major milestones, including Liverpool F.C. and Chester F.C’s refusal to renew their contract with Puma in 2019 following protests against the brand in the UK.

In Malaysia, the country’s largest university, Universiti Teknologi MARA [UiTM], also ended a sponsorship deal with Puma over its support for illegal Israeli settlements, following a three year contract.

Puma is the only international sponsor of the Israel Football Association [IFA], with six of its clubs located in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This enables their clubs to play their games on unlawfully seized lands from Palestinians, who are prohibited from entering  to participate in any sporting activity.

Its involvement in supporting the forced dispossession of Palestinians and the illegal occupation constitutes a clear violation of human rights. Funding Israel further allows it to carry out its injustices against Palestinians and expand its settlements.

The IFA itself has refused to end its complicity with the human rights violations against Palestinians and was condemned by rights groups, UN officials as well as several public figures.

Contrary to its involvement in the illegal Israeli occupation, the brand says it has “the responsibility” to ensure that its products are “manufactured in decent workplaces where human rights are respected”.

According to the official website of the BDS Movement, Puma’s exclusive licensee in Israel, Al Srad Ltd., has an outlet in the “no man’s land” surrounding  East Jerusalem, an area that is part of Israel’s illegal settlement-annexation enterprise.

In addition to land theft, Palestinian athletes face obstacles when participating in competitions in their own lands and abroad, while also struggling to find places to play due to the destruction that Israel regularly carries out in Palestinian lands.

There are over 150 Israeli settlements in Palestine, over 128 outposts, and over 750,000 settlers living in stolen houses.

Palestinians continue to face forced dispossessions in several areas, including most recently in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.

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