O'Neills Sportswear remains silent on claims anti-Israel activists have forced removal of Puma products
Puma is the official kit supplier to the Israel national football team, however, the German company has said it has no links to any other other teams in Israel, and “does not support football teams” in the Israeli settlements in Gaza.
Although O’Neills has not confirmed the claims made by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), Puma products are not currently available to purchase from the company’s website.
In a social media post, the PACBI said: “Ireland's largest sportswear chain O'Neill's removed @PUMA products from Derry & Belfast city centre stores.”
The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) had planned to protest outside the O’Neills store in Londonderry but has now called it off.
IPSC spokeswoman Catherine Hutton said her group was taking its lead from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) global movement against Israel.
She said IPSC members had written to O’Neills and posted an online call for the removal of Puma products.
"It’s been brilliant and we have to thank them for taking the initiative,” she told the Irish News.
The reported boycott has led to the TUV questioning why the campaigners have an “unhealthy obsession” with “with the only democracy in the Middle East".
TUV chairman and Cusher councillor Keith Ratcliff said: “In a world where there are many abuses of human rights by many nations, the unhealthy obsession some activists groups have with the only democracy in the Middle East raises suspicions, particularly when one remembers that it is the globe’s only Jewish state.“That said, one does wonder about the grasp activists have on how to impact Israel when the target of their anger is a German company.”
Cllr Ratcliff also questioned whether those “campaigning for non-violence” had any issues with O’Neills having produced jerseys to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the republican hunger strikes.
In a statement, Puma’s head of communications Kerstin Neuber, said: “Puma’s local distribution partner supplies the Israeli national teams with Puma-branded football equipment to compete in international competitions.
“We do not have any other official connection or association with any other Israeli football team – neither in mainland Israel nor in settlements.”Ms Neuber added: “Puma does not support football teams in settlements nor does its Israeli distributor have branches in settlements .
“Puma continues to support and outfit athletes from all backgrounds, regardless of race, colour, creed, religion, sexual orientation and national origins."