Football and Landmines, Part 2: Why I Won’t Support Everton AnymorePosted: January 25, 2012
Football has long had a positive role in advocating against landmines and for the needs of landmine victims. David Ginola, a Frenchman who played for Tottenham Hotspur, took on the role of being the public advocate for landmines on behalf of the Red Cross, a role that had previously been fulfilled by Princess Diana (The Independent; The Guardian). The 2008 UEFA European Championship sponsored the “Score for the Red Cross” campaign which provided victim assistance support to landmine victims in Afghanistan (Kick It Out). In Sierra Leone, the Single-Leg Amputee Soccer Club serves as a role model for the ability of persons with disabilities and landmine survivors (The National). Most recently, Sir Bobby Charlton, a legendary player for Manchester United founded the charity, “A Better Way,” with Mines Advisory Group to raise funds to support the development of new landmine detection technology (MarketWatch).
More broadly, football has been involved in anti-racism campaigns (Kick It Out) and football stars have served as spokespersons for various causes, like Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast and Chelsea Football Club has done for malaria (The Independent) and Barcelona Football Club did for UNICEF, the United Nations children’s charity (UNICEF). However, there is a seamier side to football; including accusations of exploitation of young men from developing countries, corruption within the game’s national and international associations and the encouragement of gambling on games and the attendant match-fixing scandals. I would like to call attention to the role of money in the game and specifically ask the question of whose money is funding certain teams.
At the 1:14 mark in this video, please note the name of the sponsor on the boards behind the goal, “Hanwha SolarOne” (and remember this is mere seconds before Everton scores the opening goal of the game, a true rarity).The game is between Everton and Blackburn Rovers of the English Premier League and was played at Goodison Park on Saturday, January 21st. I am personally an Everton supporter and have been since attending the Boxing Day match between Everton and Manchester United in 2001 (I think) where, despite the presence of my namesake, Joe-Max Moore, Everton lost 2-nil. Since that game, I have dutifully followed Everton’s ups and downs and rooted for my countrymen, Brian McBride, Tim Howard and Landon Donovan when they wore the blue jersey. I personally own three Everton jerseys and a scarf and have proudly worn them on four continents, receiving a few cheers and many more jeers for my choice of team. This year, Everton has been spectacularly poor, losing to good teams and bad teams at the same pace and normally I would be saying things like, “they’ll turn it around” or “Everton will beat the drop” or “they’re my team, I’ll live and die by them in the Premiership or the Championship.” However, I stopped being an Everton supporter the moment I saw the Hanwha SolarOne advertisement and realized that Hanwha SolarOne sponsored Everton.
Hanwha SolarOne is a Korean company that produces photovoltaic cells (solar cells) and is part of the Hanwha Group. As part of its marketing strategy, Hanwha SolarOne has deliberately targeted European football clubs, including Hamburg SV in Germany, Bolton Wanderers in England and Juventus in Italy, for sponsorship and partnerships (Hanwha SolarOne; Football Marketing). Hanwha Group has entered an exclusive relationship with Bolton Wanderers, but that relationship does not preclude Hanwha SolarOne and other Hanwha Group companies from entering into relationships with other football clubs. Globally, Hanwha Group, a Korean company, has assets of $83 billion and in 2010 generated more than $26 billion in revenues from its 56 Korean and 69 global corporate members active primarily in the manufacturing, finance and service sectors (BusinessWire). One of Hanwha Group’s subsidiaries, Hanwha Corporation, makes landmines.
In 2007, Hanwha Corporation produced 10,000 self-destructing anti-personnel landmines, and an unknown number of Claymore-type landmines. The Republic of Korea remains outside the Mine Ban Treaty and reserves the right to produce more landmines so it is entirely possible that Hanwha Corporation has fulfilled additional orders for landmines since 2007 (The Monitor). Hanwha Corporation’s defense business and products are detailed on their website (Hanwha Corporation) and the following screenshot from the electronic brochure shows some of Hanwha Corporation’s products and some possible victims of those products.
Hanwha Corporation’s sponsorship of Bolton Wanderers Football Club was covered by a fan website which also pointed out the connection to landmine production (Manny Road Blog). At the time, I mentioned the link between Hanwha and Bolton on Twitter, but I did not pay attention to who else Hanwha sponsored in England – although I had noticed that Hanwha sponsored Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in Germany. Had I followed the story, I would have seen the comment on the Just Another 606 page which pointed out that Hanwha also sponsored Everton (see comment from “exiledboltonian”).
Knowing what I know now, I simply cannot support Everton any longer. I understand football teams seek out sponsorship, but I refuse to be associated with a team that takes money from a known landmine manufacturer. Period. Full-stop. I’ve seen what these weapons can do to children the same age as those in Hanwha’s brochure and am disgusted that the team I’ve supported for a decade is in bed with these butchers.
I own four items of Everton gear, three shirts and a scarf which I’ve posted to eBay. Any money I make I’ll give to Handicap International through my FirstGiving.com page. If you are curious, here are the listings:
Home Short-Sleeve Shirt, Medium, with Chang Beer sponsor and made by Umbro: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=120849156159
Home Short-Sleeve Shirt, Large, with One-2-One sponsor and made by Umbro: http://www.ebay.com/itm/120849159124?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1558.l2649
Away Short-Sleeve Shirt, Extra-Large, with One-2-One sponsor and made by Puma: http://www.ebay.com/itm/120849159698?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1558.l2649
Goodbye, Everton. You disappointed me; not as a fan, but as a human being.
Michael P. Moore, January 25, 2012.