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Defense company: Unusual sponsorship deal: Rheinmetall new BVB partner

Defense company: Unusual sponsorship deal: Rheinmetall new BVB partner

Weapons and football? You might think that they don’t go together. The arms company Rheinmetall is nevertheless seeking proximity to a large German football club and is becoming a sponsor.

Three days before the most important game of the season, Borussia Dortmund announced a sponsorship deal that could lead to discussions: the arms company Rheinmetall will support the Bundesliga football club for the next three years. According to “Handelsblatt”, the amount involved is in the single-digit millions of euros per year.

The partnership includes the use of high-reach advertising space, marketing rights as well as event and hospitality offers in the stadium and on the club grounds, announced Germany’s largest weapons manufacturer and the football club. The financial volume has been kept confidential, said a Rheinmetall spokesman.

BVB prepares for criticism

BVB boss Hans-Joachim Watzke pointed out that security and defense are cornerstones of democracy. “That’s why we think it’s the right decision to focus very intensively on how we can protect these cornerstones.” They are looking forward to the collaboration and “as Borussia Dortmund, we are consciously opening ourselves up to a discourse.” Rheinmetall boss Armin Papperger was satisfied. “With BVB and Rheinmetall, we have found two partners who are a good fit with each other in terms of their ambitions, their attitudes and their backgrounds,” said the defense manager. Both are rooted in the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region. Rheinmetall has its headquarters in Düsseldorf.

The discussion mentioned by Watzke could come at an inopportune time for Dortmund and distract from sporting issues ahead of the Champions League final on Saturday against Real Madrid. “There is only one topic left now, and that is this final,” BVB sports director Sebastian Kehl said on Tuesday: “I would like us to concentrate on this game.”

It is likely to be the first time that an arms company has sponsored a Bundesliga club – the Federal Association of the German Security and Defense Industry (BDSV) is not aware of any comparable case. The black and yellow alliance with the weapons manufacturer is likely to be controversial among football fans, and criticism erupted on social media on Wednesday. There were also negative reactions in other parts of society. The German Peace Society – United War Resisters called for the deal to be overturned. “A weapons manufacturer as a sponsor does not fit with the values ​​that BVB – and football as a whole – represents,” said the pacifists.

Rheinmetall already active as a sports sponsor

Sponsoring a sports club is not new territory for the defense company, which also operates as an automotive supplier – Rheinmetall is already a sponsor of the handball club Bergischer HC from Solingen, not far from Düsseldorf.

Germany’s largest arms company, with around 30,000 employees, is on a growth trajectory; after the Russian attack on Ukraine, demand for ammunition, tanks and anti-aircraft guns skyrocketed. Since the beginning of 2022, the order backlog has risen by around 10 billion euros to 24 billion euros, and sales are expected to reach 10 billion euros this year. This would be almost twice as high as in 2021, i.e. before the Ukraine war (5.7 billion euros). The share price has more than quintupled since February 2022.

Habeck: Rheinmetall sponsorship reflects a turning point

For Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck, the sponsorship deal between the arms company Rheinmetall and Borussia Dortmund is an expression of a new situation. “The fact that Rheinmetall is now sponsoring a football club is indeed unusual, but it shows where we stand,” said the Green politician in Berlin.

The minister, who is also responsible for arms exports, said that they are in constant contact with Rheinmetall so that the company produces even more ammunition to support Ukraine. “We know and unfortunately have to admit that we are in a different, more threatening world.” That is why “the practiced and understandable restraint” in public dealings with the arms industry is no longer tenable and is correct, said Habeck. “In this respect, this sponsorship certainly reflects the reality of the changing times to some extent.”

Source: Stern

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