Rheinmetall becomes Borussia Dortmund sponsor

Rheinmetall becomes Borussia Dortmund sponsor
Rheinmetall becomes Borussia Dortmund sponsor

Bundesliga football club Borussia Dortmund have announced a three-year sponsorship deal with German arms manufactuer Rheinmetall.

German football club Borussia Dortmund have signed a three-year sponsorship deal with leading German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall.

The Düsseldorf-based firm, the fifth-largest weapons manufacturer in Europe, has become a “Champion Partner” of the Bundesliga club in a deal worth between €7 and €9 million per year.

Rheinmetall’s logo will be visible on advertising boards and other surfaces at locations such as BVB’s 83,000-capacity Westfalenstadion, its Brackel training ground and other hospitality and marketing events, starting with the club’s preparations for the prestigious Champions League final on Saturday.

It will not, however, feature on the players’ kits or training gear.

“Security and defense are elementary pillars of our democracy, so we think it’s the right decision to see how we can protect these pillars,” said BVB chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke in a club statement entitled “taking responsibility.”

Rheinmetall board chairman Armin Papperger said that his company and Borussia Dortmund are “well matched due to their ambitions, attitude and heritage.”

He said that “BVB is a club from the heart of North Rhine-Westphalia which strives more than any other for top performance and international success,” and that Rheinmetall is “deeply rooted in the Rhine-Ruhr region.”

BVB and Rheinmetall: a controversial partnership

The identity of Rheinmetall as a leading player in the arms manufacturing industry is likely to be controversial among sections of Borussia Dortmund’s 200,000 members and wider fanbase.

In November 2022, the club drew up and published a code of ethics in which it committed itself to “a society without racism, antisemitism, homophobia, sexism, violence and discrimination.”

Particularly the penultimate point could lead to criticism from some quarters given the prominent role of Rheinmetall in German arms exports, not only in the modern day but also historically during the Second World War.

According to German football magazine Kicker, the club consulted with figures from German politics, economics and civil society as well as with representatives of its own fanbase before agreeing the deal.

“Especially today, as we experience every day how freedom must be defended in Europe, we have to deal with this new reality,” said CEO Watzke. “We’re looking forward to the partnership with Rheinmetall and are open to discussions.”

German Economy Minister and Deputy Chancellor Robert Habeck told reporters in Berlin that “Rheinmetall sponsoring a football club is indeed unusual,” but said it also reflected the current state of affairs.

“We are in permanent contact with companies such as Rheinmetall, [encouraging them] to produce more munitions to support Ukraine,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have to accept that we are living in a different, more threatening world.”

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