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HUMAN rights campaigners will be demonstrating outside Puma’s shops in Britain and across the world today calling on shoppers to “Give Puma the boot” for its continued sponsorship of the Israeli Football Association (IFA).
Puma, the protesters say, is complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and human rights abuses against the Palestinian people because six of the teams the IFA governs are based in Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank.
“Companies like Puma cannot claim to support universal equality whilst being the main sponsor of the IFA, which operates on stolen Palestinian land with total impunity,” Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) campaigns officer James Tuite said.
“The IFA must be held to account for its violations of international law. That’s why thousands across the world are today calling on Puma to end its complicity in Israel’s tactics of sportwashing, which are used to mask its illegal occupation and denial of Palestinian rights.”
Palestinian footballer Muhammad Khalil Obeid’s career was ended when Israeli forces shot him in the leg while peacefully protesting. He has urged the company “to stand on the side of human rights and end its sponsorship with the IFA.”
“The illegal settlements that IFA teams operate on,” Obeid said, “are a crucial part of Israel’s brutal military occupation under which millions of Palestinians are suffering.
“We need the global community’s help in holding the IFA to account. Puma could make a huge difference to our cause if it chose to do the right thing.”
Today’s protests, called by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI) of Israel in support of over 200 Palestinian football clubs, are due to take place at 30 stores across Britain and the north of Ireland.
“Puma is lending its iconic leaping cat as cover for Israel’s illegal land grabs,” a PACBI spokesperson told the Star.
“Puma is the only international sponsor of the Israel Football Association, which not only welcomes within its leagues, but justifies and defends teams in illegal Israeli settlements that rob Palestinians of land and resources and hinder Palestinian athletes’ ability to practice sports.
“Palestinian athletes are heartened to see that supporters of human rights and fair play in more than 20 countries will be delivering their boycott call directly to Puma shops and offices, consumers and Puma-sponsored teams.
“Puma has a chance to live up to its claim of a ‘devotion to universal equality’ by ending support for Israel’s human rights abuses. Otherwise, the company will face a growing boycott.”
Activists plan to deliver campaign materials to Puma store managers, as well as leaflet the store’s customers.
PSC says that 25,000 emails have been sent to Puma-sponsored football clubs across Britain urging them to drop their partnership with the sportswear manufacturer until it stops sponsoring the IFA.
On Monday PACBI shared a video on its social media feeds of 14 rugby teams that have joined the boycott.
The IFA’s relationship with previous sponsor Adidas came to an end in July 2018 after a sustained campaign by over 130 Palestinian football clubs and thousands of human rights supporters across the world.
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