AdidasÂ respondedÂ to the March 12, 2018 letter from more thanÂ 130 Palestinian football clubs and sports associationsÂ demanding that Adidas drops its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association (IFA), which hosts Â clubs based in Israelâs illegal settlements.
We welcome Adidasâ commitment to âuphold human rights standards and norms,â and its call on FIFA to respect human rights and international law âon the question of the Israeli settlement teams.â
We appeal to Adidas to follow its own advice: to respect international law and Palestinian human rights by ending its sponsorship of the IFA as long as it hosts clubs based in illegal Israeli settlements.
Israeli settlements violate PalestinianÂ human rights. They are built on stolen Palestinian land and restrict Palestiniansâ freedom of movement and access to water, fertile lands and livelihoods.
Furthermore, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israeli settlements areÂ war crimes. This makes Adidas complicit in serious Israeli human rights violations through its IFA sponsorship.
Adidasâ letter also says, âAdidas acts in a politically neutral way.â But as South African anti-apartheid leader ArchbishopÂ Desmond Tutu once said: âIf you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.â Adidas is not merely selling its products to the national football association of a state that is involved in a decades-long illegal occupation and the grave violations of human rights entailed in it. It isÂ sponsoringÂ it. Adidas, therefore, is anything but âpolitically neutralâ in this case.
In fact, Adidas has failed to end its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association even when Israeli snipers shotÂ 23-year-old footballer Mohammad Khalil ObeidÂ in both legs andÂ 21-year-old cyclist Alaa Al-DalyÂ in his right leg, which had to be amputated. Both their professional careers were ended by Israeli bullets. ObeidÂ toldÂ Amnesty International, âAs a Palestinian [football] player my life has been destroyed… I was dreaming of playing football abroad, and to raise the Palestinian flag abroad.â
Clinging on to hope and insisting on fulfilling their passion for the beautiful game, Palestinian amputees, who have lost limbs in Israelâs repeated attacks on Gaza, have recentlyÂ formedÂ a football club.
Adidas says itÂ works in accordanceÂ with the UNâs Guiding Principles. It is based on these guiding principles that theÂ UN Human Rights Council has established a databaseÂ of companies complicit in Israelâs occupation. Adidas risks being included in this database. The sponsorship will not only make it target of popular boycott but also of institutional divestment campaigns including at the state level.
On its web site, AdidasÂ statesÂ that where it finds âpotential or actual adverse impactsâ on human rights, it is âcommitted to mitigate or eliminate those impactsâ and that it does so âto fulfil a basic obligation as a responsible business, that is, toÂ do no harmwhen it comes to the exercise and fulfilment of human rights.â
AdidasÂ endedÂ its sponsorship of the International Association of Athletics Federations following the doping and corruption scandals.
We urge Adidas to âdo no harmâ to Palestinian human rights, and to cancel its complicit sponsorship of the Israel Football Association.
Human Interest 06/16/18:Â Nisreen Azzeh: âI am here, I resist.â
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.