Rheinmetall new sponsor of Borussia Dortmund

Rheinmetall new sponsor of Borussia Dortmund
Rheinmetall new sponsor of Borussia Dortmund

(new: more details and context)

DÜSSELDORF/DORTMUND (dpa-AFX) – A few days before the Champions League final, Borussia Dortmund, a Bundesliga football club, made headlines by signing a sponsorship agreement. The Rheinmetall arms group will support the BVB over the next three years. This was announced on Wednesday by the Westphalia club and the gunsmith. A spokesperson for the Düsseldorf company declined to comment on the financial volume, but according to “Handelsblatt” it is a single-digit amount in the millions of euros per year. According to reports, the partnership includes the use of high-profile advertising space, marketing rights as well as event and hospitality offers in the stadium and on the club’s grounds. Rheinmetall becomes the BVB’s “Champion Partner”, i.e. a particularly financially important sponsor.

BVB prepares for criticism

The president of the BVB, Hans-Joachim Watzke, recalled that security and defense are cornerstones of democracy. “That’s why we think it’s a good decision to take a very close look at how we protect these cornerstones.” We are happy about this cooperation and, as Borussia Dortmund, we are consciously open to debate.” Rheinmetall boss Armin Papperger was satisfied. “With BVB and Rheinmetall, we have found two partners who, with their ambitions, their attitude and their origin, fit well”, declared the director of armaments.

The speech mentioned by Watzke could come at a bad time for Dortmund and divert attention from sporting topics before the Champions League final on Saturday against Real Madrid. “There is only one subject now, and that is this final,” BVB sporting director Sebastian Kehl said on Tuesday: “I would like us to concentrate on this match.”

This is the first time that an arms company sponsors a Bundesliga football club

This is probably the first time that an arms company has sponsored a football club – the German Association of the Security and Defense Industry (BDSV) is not aware of a similar case. The association welcomed this approach. “Sponsoring is a way of making a large section of the population understand that weapons are not an ‘unpleasant’ element in maintaining our security and peace, but that they are an integral part of our social reality if we want to live in peace and freedom,” said Hans Christoph Atzpodien, general director of the BDSV.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck also commented on the agreement. “The fact that Rheinmetall is now sponsoring a football club is indeed unusual, but it shows where we are,” the Green politician said in Berlin. We are in permanent contact with Rheinmetall so that the company produces even more ammunition to support Ukraine, said the minister also responsible for arms exports.

“We know and unfortunately must admit that we are in another world, more threatening.” This is why “the usual and understandable restraint” in public relations with the arms sector is no longer tenable or correct, Mr Habeck said. “In this sense, this sponsorship certainly reflects a little the reality of the changing times.” After the Russian attack on Ukraine, the German government declared an “epochal change” and released 100 billion euros to rehabilitate the German army. Rheinmetall also benefits from this package.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior, responsible for sports, did not wish to comment on the Rheinmetall-BVB agreement. A ministry spokesman said he did not comment on sponsorship deals for sports clubs.

Criticisms from supporters and pacifists

Some football fans and other sectors of society reacted negatively. The Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft – Vereinigte KriegsdienstgegnerInnen has launched an online petition asking the BVB to reverse course and issue a “red card for the advertising deal”. “A weapons manufacturer as a sponsor does not correspond to the values ​​that the BVB – and football in general – defends,” declared the pacifists.

On “X” (formerly Twitter), many users expressed their dissatisfaction – for many, the logo of an arms company has no place on advertising banners at the side of the pitch. Ironic and harsh criticism was also made: in a photomontage, a miniature tank could be seen going up to the side of a pitch and bringing a football to the referee. The satirical party Die Partei also published a photomontage showing a tank on a football field, with the headline: “BVB – wir nicht nur Tore schießen” (BVB – we don’t just score goals).

Rheinmetall already active as a sports sponsor

Sponsoring a sports club is not unfamiliar territory for the arms group, which is also a supplier of motor vehicles – Rheinmetall is already a sponsor of the Bergischer HC handball club in Solingen, not far from Düsseldorf. But with the football club and Champions League finalist BVB, Rheinmetall’s sports sponsorship is taken to another level.

Germany’s largest arms group, which employs around 30,000 people, is growing. After the Russian attack on Ukraine, the demand for ammunition, tanks and anti-aircraft guns soared. Since the start of 2022, the order book has increased by around 10 billion euros to reach 24 billion euros, and turnover is expected to reach 10 billion euros this year. It would thus be almost twice as high as in 2021, that is to say before the war in Ukraine (5.7 billion euros). The share price has increased more than five times since February 2022. Rheinmetall plays an important role in the defense of Ukraine, the company supplies military equipment on a large scale and is paid for this by the German government. /wdw/DP/jha

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