Dortmund reaches agreement with Israeli export-related arms company

Germany’s Borussia Dortmund football club is facing backlash over its partnership with arms manufacturer Rheinmetall, which is responsible for shipping weapons to Israel.

Dortmund face backlash from fans over signing three-year sponsorship deal with weapons maker Rheinmetall [GETTY]

Germany’s Borussia Dortmund football club has been criticized for signing a sponsorship deal with a major European arms manufacturer.

The Bundesliga side have signed a three-year advertising deal with Rheinmetall, Europe’s fifth-largest arms manufacturer and Germany’s largest.

Israel’s war in Gaza has brought arms sales under further scrutiny, with 30% of weapons imported by Tel Aviv being sold to Israel by Germany between 2019 and 2023.

The agreement includes “extensive advertising space, marketing rights and events and hospitality arrangements within the stadium and club grounds”, starting with the Champions League final against Real Madrid on June 1.

Hans-Joachim Watzke, CEO of Borussia Dortmund, said: “Security and defense are the fundamental building blocks of our democracy. Therefore, we believe it is the right decision to focus on protecting these building blocks.”

“Especially today, when we experience every day how Europe’s freedoms must be defended. We should respond to this new normal.”

While Rheinmetall’s logo will not appear on players’ jerseys, the logo will appear on the team’s licensed products ahead of the club’s Champions League final.

It will also be displayed on billboards inside the stadium and at press conferences.

The executive director of the German Peace Association, a Dortmund fan, called on the club to end the partnership and said he was “shocked” that the team would even consider such a partnership.

The group also launched a petition and rallied in front of Borussia Dortmund’s stadium.

In the days following Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel and Israel’s bombing of Gaza, global weapons stockpiles increased across the board.

In the week starting October 9, Rheinmetall shares rose 4.83%.

Former England footballer Gary Lineker, who has been outspoken about the Gaza war, said he would support the opposing team in the final after the deal was announced.

Meanwhile, German Deputy Chancellor and Finance Minister Robert Habeck called the agreement “unusual” and said it reflected Europe’s current geopolitical realities.

Germany has been one of Israel’s biggest supporters, with officials strongly backing Israel’s war in Gaza.

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