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 itself. Israeli sports claim a very diverse history and are a microcosm of the multi-cultural country.
Arab-Israelis, 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. Sports is supposed to be a place to put aside politics and controversy, and instead compete for the fun of players and spectators alike. Sadly, this is not always the case.
This is 7-year-old chess champ Liel Levitan. She has won the European chess♟️ champioship for kids last week but she can’t compete in the world chess championship that will be held in Tunisia. Why? She’s Israeli.— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) July 22, 2018
The Arab countries' racism towards Israel in sports must stop. pic.twitter.com/c5Bm7TXsKr
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 to not 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.
This is not a solitary instance, as 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. But this is not everywhere. 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.
As oppose to a minority that tried to whistle contempt at the Israeli national anthem, tens of thousands of fans responded with applause. Thank you for an inspiring sporting spectacle. See you in Jerusalem!@pzpn_pl pic.twitter.com/V5YkPuTBly— ISRAEL FA (@ISRAELFA) June 11, 2019
Boycotting Puma and working against these great initiatives that are breaking down barriers is counterproductive, and the Israeli Football Association is a great example for the rest of the world in embracing diversity and promoting cross-cultural initiatives.