Puma to drop sponsorship of Israel's national soccer team next year, decision 'unrelated' to BDS movement

Puma will drop its sponsorship of Israel's national soccer team in a decision the German sportswear company said was unrelated to the ongoing war in Gaza.

The decision was made last year, well before the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack, and was not made in consideration of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement or any other "external causes," a company spokesperson told Fox Business in a statement. 

"While two newly signed national teams — including a new statement team — will be announced later this year and in 2024, the contracts of some federations such as Serbia and Israel will expire in 2024," the spokesperson said. 

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The decision, first reported by the Financial Times, was made in 2022 as part of Puma's "fewer-bigger-better strategy" and was in line with the regular timelines for designing and developing team jerseys, the spokesperson added.

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The Puma logo seen at the entrance of one of its stores

The logo of German sports goods firm Puma is seen at the entrance of one of its stores in Vienna, Austria, March 18, 2016.  (REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo / Reuters Photos)

The announcement that Puma will no longer provide jerseys for Israel's soccer team was hailed as a win by the pro-Palestinian BDS movement. 

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) said Puma has been targeted by a worldwide BDS campaign since 2018 "over its support for Israeli apartheid oppressing millions of Palestinians." 

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Israeli football players celebrate after goal

Israel's midfielder #17 Gadi Kinda (2L) celebrates after scoring Israel's second goal during the UEFA Euro 2024 Group I qualification football match between Andorra and Israel at the National Stadium in Andorra la Vella on November 21, 2023. The play (VALENTINE CHAPUIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Thousands of Palestinians have been killed in the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza since the start of the war, prompting international outcry over civilian deaths. More than 1,200 Israelis were killed by Hamas in the initial Oct. 7 attack, when terrorists infiltrated the company in a rampage of rape, torture and murder. 

"The years of relentless, global BDS pressure on PUMA and the damage to its image should be a lesson to all companies supporting Israeli apartheid, that complicity has consequences," the PACBI said. "It is also a lesson to the deeply complicit, Western-dominated FIFA, which continues to shield Israel from accountability despite the settlement teams violating its own statutes."

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Pro-Palestinian protesters demand a boycott over Puma's sponsorship of Israel's national football team

Pro-Palestinian activists canvass support from the public outside a branch of JD Sports during a Boycott Puma day of action on 10th July 2021 in Slough, United Kingdom. (Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)

However, the Israel Football Association (IFA) rejected the BDS campaign's characterization of the decision, calling it "a pathetic attempt" to mislead the public, the Financial Times report said. 

The IFA told the Financial Times it had an option to extend the contract with Puma by two years until 2026 but declined to do so in September after failing to reach agreeable contract terms and conditions. 

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Puma will announce a new partnership with a high-profile soccer team soon, the Financial Times reported. 

The company will also "discontinue to work with some other national teams" in the coming year, the report said.