Borussia Dortmund must reconsider deal with Arms Manufacturer Rheinmetall

Borussia Dortmund must reconsider deal with Arms Manufacturer Rheinmetall
Courtesy: The Independent

Borussia Dortmund, Germany’s second largest football club, have announced a three-year sponsorship deal with weapons manufacturer Rheinmetall, ahead of their Champions League Final game against Real Madrid this evening. 

 

impACT International echoes German Peace Society’s opposition to this deal; arms manufacturers, who make profits from building weapons that kill or injure people, destroy neighbourhoods and livelihoods, should not be a sponsor of a football team, particularly one with such global influence. According to reports, the sponsorship will not appear on player’s shirts, it will be present on advertising boards at Signal Iduna Park, the club’s home ground, and their training ground.

 

Importantly, the presence of such advertising could violate the Union of European Football Associations (UEFAs) commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). UEFA states that its “core purpose to promote football aligns with the fundamental principles of the UDHR, including anti-discrimination, gender equity, child safety, inclusion and accessibility”, allowing a company that profits off of killing, maiming and destruction, is the antithesis of these values. 

 

In a statement on the deal, Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall stated that the arms manufacturer and Dortmund has “similar ambitions, attitudes and origins” and both organisations were in “pursuit of excellence and international success”. 

 

Rheinmetall

 

According to SIPRI, the German state is a world leader in the exportation of military equipment, representing 5.6% of the global export market between 2019-2023. Rheinmetall, being the nations largest weapons and ammunition producer, are therefore, deeply integrated into Germany’s international arms trade commitments and are heavily relied upon to fulfil a plethora of these deals. The recent flare in global conflicts has had a significant impact in Rheinmetall’s stock price and profits, with the latter rising 60% in the first quarter for 2024.

 

Largely credited to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, Rheinmetall has been a substantial supplier as “Western governments beef up their military and replenish their stocks after supplying substantial amounts of arms to Kyiv”. Demand is high, and sustained, with Reuters reporting that Rheinmetall have an order backlog of up to 40.2 billion euros, a growth of 43%. 

 

The German state is the second largest supplier of arms to Israel, behind the United States, supplying 30% of Israel’s imports between 2019-2023. Seldom mentioned in the many recent reports of Rheinmetall’s success, is the corporation supplying Germany’s weapons deals with the Israeli state during their ongoing invasion of the Gaza Strip, described as a plausible genocide by the ICJ. In the five days after the October 7th attacks, Rheinmetall’s share price rose by around 15%, the largest in 2023. Rheinmetall’s share price has seen large and sustained growth since October last year, and is, in May 2024, it’s highest point in the companies history. 

 

The details of Rheinmetall’s involvement in the ongoing Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, as the military continues it’s ground invasion of Rafah, are limited. Though in January, it was also announced that the corporation would be supplying a German-Israeli agreement, established in November 2023, to supply some 10 000 120mm precision rounds “to replenish ammunition used in the Gaza operation”. Rheinmetall also have a joint venture with BAE Systems, another weapons company intimately involved in the Israeli military; Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land. This joint venture, headquartered in Telford, England, build and supply infantry vehicles. 

 

impACT International implores Borussia Dortmund to reconsider their deal with Rheinmetall, a corporation so deeply integrated into a industry that stands in antithesis to human rights, equality and the values of the Union of European Football Associations. 

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