BDS Now Targeting Puma and the IFA

The BDS movement is calling for a boycott on Puma, the sponsor of the Israeli Football Association, for its support of the IFA and football teams in the West Bank.

Starting in April but gaining traction this past week, the BDS movement has now set its sights on the athletics apparel company Puma. After the contract with Adidas ended last year, German sportswear giant Puma filled the void, signing a four-year deal to sponsor both the Israeli national team as well as the Israeli Football League.

Ethiopian-Israelis, Circassian-Israelis, and Arab-Israelis play for Israeli teams, represent Israel abroad, and showcase Israel’s talents around the world. Israel premier league teams like Bnei Sakhnin, an Arab-Israeli squad, compete at the highest levels, even winning the State Cup in 2004. These athletes are great role models for diversity across the country.

BDS now has its eyes on Puma and the IFA because the IFA also sponsors teams, games, and events throughout the West Bank. While BDS criticizes Puma’s supposed two-facedness in calling for diversity and equality while also supporting Israeli sports, the IFA and Israeli sports in general are a great example of diversity. Israeli athletes have regularly showcased their sportsmanlike conduct even in the face of worldwide disrespect at sporting events. 

Besides multiple instances over the years of refusals to shake hands such as by an Egyptian judoka in 2016 and an Emirati judoka in 2017, there have also been instances of athletes representing countries hostile to Israel purposefully losing not to meet Israel in a competition, as with multiple instances where Iranians would have to face Israelis. Arab countries even refuse to participate in the Eurovision Song Festival, as Israel competes every year.

Then, at an international judo championship in the UAE also in 2017, the organizers refused to play the Israeli national anthem or fly the Israeli flag when Israel won the gold. Last year, Tunisia was almost banned by the World Chess Federation when they refused to let a 7-year-old Israeli chess prodigy compete. Upon pressure from the international community, they eventually conceded. 

The Malaysian Prime Minister would also not let Israelis participate in the World Paralympic Swimming Championships. In response the International Paralympic Committee soon stripped the rights of the competition from the Malaysian hosts. However, this is not always the case; in March, the Israeli national anthem was played in Qatar after a gymnastics competition, and last year in Abu Dhabi after an Israeli judoka won the gold.