Borussia Dortmund face backlash over arms firm linked to Israel exports

Borussia Dortmund face backlash over arms firm linked to Israel exports
German football team Borussia Dortmund is facing backlash over a partnership with arms manufacturer Rheinmetall, responsible for sending weapons to Israel.
2 min read
01 June, 2024
Borussia Dortmund are facing backlash from fans for signing an three-year sponsorship deal with weapons manufacturer Rheinmetall [GETTY]

German football club Borussia Dortmund has come under fire for signing a sponsorship agreement with a major arms manufacturer in Europe.

The Bundesliga side signed a three-year advertising agreement with Rheinmetall, Europe's fifth-largest weapons manufacturer and Germany's largest.

Israel's war on Gaza has brought further scrutiny on arms sales, with 30 percent of Tel Aviv's arms imports having been being sold to it by Germany between 2019 and 2023.

The deal includes "wide-reaching advertising space, marketing rights and event and hospitality arrangements in the stadium and on the club grounds", starting with the Champions League final against Real Madrid on 1 June.

"Security and defence are fundamental cornerstones of our democracy. That is why we believe it is the right decision to focus very intensively on how we protect these cornerstones," said Hans-Joachim Watzke, CEO of Borussia Dortmund.

"Especially today, when we experience every day how freedom in Europe must be defended. We should deal with this new normality."

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While Rheinmetall's logo will not appear on the players' shirts, the logo will be displayed on the team's licensed products before the club's Champions League final.

It will also be displayed along the advertising boards in the stadium and during press conferences.

The German Peace Society, whose managing director is a Dortmund fan, has called for the club to end this partnership, saying he is "shocked" that the team would even consider such a partnership.

The group had also launched a petition and rallied in front of the club's stadium in Dortmund.

In the immediate days after Hamas' 7 October attack on Israel and Israel's bombardment of Gaza, global arms stocks climbed across the board.

On the week beginning 9 October, Rheinmetall stocks saw a 4.83% increase. 

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

At the same time, Robert Habeck, Germany's vice-chancellor and finance minister, called the deal "unusual", stating that it reflects Europe's current geopolitical reality.

Germany has been one of Israel's biggest backers, with its officials having thrown their weight behind its war on Gaza.