The National Jewish Assembly applauds the principled action of ethical pet care company Hownd in terminating its corporate sponsorship of the Forest Green Rovers football club over the club’s anti-Israel stance.
Forest Green Rovers owner Dale Vince persistently misappropriates his football club to spread anti-Israel hate and promulgate support for Palestinians.
Jonathan Metliss, Chairman of Action Against Discrimination (AAD) and head of the National Jewish Assembly’s Antisemitism in Sport Committee, said “I applaud the action of ethically pet care company Hownd and fruit drink giant Innocent in ending their sponsorship of Forest Green Rovers, whose actions in flying the Palestinian flag and displaying anti-Israel billboards brought politics into sport and arguably were an incitement to racial hatred.”
Mr Metliss added, “I have long advocated the withdrawal of sponsorship and sponsors as a means of pressuring football clubs into dropping and addressing antisemitic behaviour. The precedent is the withdrawal by Zoopla of its sponsorship of West Bromwich Albion when Nicolas Anelka displayed the quenelle (an antisemitic gesture) in January 2014.”
The Forest Green Rovers routinely flies the Palestinian flag at its matches and has used digital advertising boards to disseminate anti-Israeli slogans such as “End the invasion and occupation of Palestine”.
Vince’s longstanding anti-Israel bias was most apparent in May this year, when he held a “pitchside chat” with Husam Zomlot – head of the Palestinian Mission to the UK. Zomlot has previously been accused of Holocaust denial, defending the Palestinian Authority’s “pay to slay” policy, and dismissing Gazan terrorism as a “media stunt”.
During the “chat”, Vince expressed his solidarity with Palestinians and affirmed that he and the Forest Green Rovers support the Palestinian cause.
Earlier in April, Dale Vince published a tone-deaf Tweet conflating the Russian invasion of Ukraine with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The National Jewish Assembly rejects Vince’s analogy and any similarly expedient conflations of the two issues, which each warrant nuanced consideration in their respective contexts.
The bold and exemplary action of Hownd Co-Founder Mark Hirschel’s in terminating his company’s three-year sponsorship deal with the Forest Green Rovers demonstrates how the business sector can meaningfully engage in principled defiance of the hyper-politicisation of sport.
The National Jewish Assembly commends Hirschel and Hownd for affirming that sport should not become a platform for anti-Israel hate.