10 people, some wearing black and red striped football shirts stand outside Sport Direct. Some hold a Palestinian flag.

Easton Cowfolk to join Palestine solidarity protest

A community football team will join campaigners to play football outside Sports Direct, Broadmead, on Saturday to protest Puma’s sponsorship of the Israeli Football Association.

Members of the Easton Cowfolk, a football team known for their social activism, join Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign to demand that sports apparel brand Puma end its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association (IFA), criticised by campaigners for playing games on occupied territories.

The protesters will gather from 2pm and play a game of football. Saturday’s action coincides with protests across the country outside Puma outlets and stockists and follows similar demos in Bristol over the last 12 months. 

Read more: Broadmead demo targets Puma

Sooz, a member of the Easton Cowgirls, said: ‘Having played football in Palestine we have witnessed first-hand the devastating effects the illegal occupation has on the daily lives of Palestinians, including the simple act of playing football. 

‘In most countries travelling to a football ground, stadium or even your local park for a kick-about is an everyday occurrence. In Palestine, where checkpoints and roadblocks inhibit movement and freedoms daily, this is not the case.’

Ed Hill, a Palestine campaigner who lives in St Pauls said: ‘Israel’s policies are pushing indigenous Palestinian families off their land, robbing natural resources, and denying Palestinians their right of movement. 

‘Puma is complicit in helping to maintain this system of Apartheid, making normal, peaceful everyday life impossible – even down to arranging a football match, without having to cross check-points and risk arbitrary detention. This is the reality for Palestinians.’

Protesters want Puma to end its sponsorship of the IFA, following in the footsteps of Adidas, which ended its IFA sponsorship in 2018. They also call for more widespread support for the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to isolate Israel economically and politically from the rest of the world. 

In a report published in February this year, Amnesty International accused Israel of committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians. The report found that Israel commits acts which ‘form part of a systematic and widespread attack directed against the Palestinian population, and are committed with the intent to maintain the system of oppression and domination.’

Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign said that Puma’s sponsorship of the IFA legitimises and gives international cover to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory and endorses policies such as the ongoing evictions of Palestinian families in the Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem.

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