English football club Liverpool is facing an increased pressure to drop a sponsorship deal with its Regional Water Partner in China. Pro Tibet groups are building pressure on the club to drop the sponsorship deal with the Tibet Water Resources Limited.
The club had signed the deal with the water company this summer to grant it the Official Regional Water Partner status. However, the Tibetan activists, fighting for freedom for the region from China, say club’s deal is legitimising the “brutal military occupation”.
The Premier League club had signed the agreement with Tibet Water Resources Limited in July. However, it is under pressure with the Pro-Tibet groups asking the club to terminated the deal. Over 27,000 people have signed a petition calling on the club’s owner John W Henry to cancel the contract, Indipendent.co.uk has reported.
The petition on SumOfUs, an international consumer advocacy organisation, reads: “TWRL is only able to take resources from Tibet because the brutal Chinese military occupation allows it to. It owes its profits to the repression, torture and denial of political freedoms that have become commonplace there.
“In turn, its brand – and now Liverpool FC – lend legitimacy to the occupation, creating a cycle of violence and repression.”
Liverpool had announced the deal in June with a sense of pride when club’s chief commercial officer Billy Hogan has stated that the club was “proud to welcome Tibet Water to the LFC family”.
Tibet Water too had termed the partnership as a major milestone in the history of the company.
Activists have accused China of human rights abuses in the occupied territory of Tibet. “Under the occupation, a new invasion of Chinese companies has taken place, with Tibet, once a remote country with a pristine environment, now crisscrossed with mines to dig up its natural resources,” SumOfUs petition had added.
“There has been a boom in water bottling companies arriving in Tibet, drawn by the fact that Tibet is the source of some of Asia’s largest rivers, which flow as far as Bangladesh and Vietnam and provide water to roughly a fifth of the world’s population. The glaciers on Tibet’s mountain peaks feed into these rivers and are prized by water bottling companies for their purity.
“Tibet Groups around the world have expressed concerns that these water bottling, mining and extraction activities in Tibet are only able to take place due to China’s military occupation. Tibetans have been given no say over how their resources are used and have expressed widespread opposition to their natural resources being taken, regularly defying police to carry out environmental protests across Tibet.”
John Jones, Campaigns and Communications Manager at Free Tibet, is one of those who wants Liverpool to cancel its deal. “By terminating this deal, Liverpool FC’s ownership and directors would be able to demonstrate to both these groups that the club’s commitment to human rights and ethical conduct is founded on action, not just words,” the website has quoted him as saying.