Borussia Dortmund (BVB) announced a new partner prior to its UEFA Champions League final appearance last week, but the move was somewhat controversial.

The Bundesliga club signed a deal with Rheinmetall AG, a German automotive and arms manufacturer, three days before the match. The company produces a range of military hardware, predominantly armoured vehicles.

Under the terms of the three-year deal, Rheinmetall gained advertising space, marketing rights and event and hospitality arrangements at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion ground. Also included were social and ecological development programmes, aiming to build on Dortmund’s existing activities in these areas.

Speaking at the time, Armin Papperger, Chief Executive Officer of Rheinmetall AG, said: “This move will bring together BVB and Rheinmetall, two partners with similar ambitions, attitudes and origins. BVB is a club from the heart of North Rhine-Westphalia and, more than nearly anyone else, it represents the pursuit of excellence and international success. 

“Rheinmetall has deep roots in the metropolitan Rhine-Ruhr region and wishes for its brand to be better known internationally too as a leading systems supplier for the defence industry and as a driver of industrial innovations on civilian markets.”

The arrangement was not entirely supported by football fans, however, some of whom took to X (Twitter) to express disappointment with BVB for entering into an agreement with an arms manufacturer.

According to The New York Times, some commentators see the partnership as symbolic of a growing normalisation of the military in German public life. The ethics of such an agreement have also been questioned, at a time of various conflicts around the world such as Ukraine and the Middle East.

However, defenders of the partnership have cited the importance of national defence and the accompanying industry, as well as Rheinmetall supplying weapons and equipment to  Ukraine throughout the Russian invasion of the country.

Chairman of Borussia Dortmund, Hans-Joachim Watzke, said: “Security and defence are fundamental cornerstones of our democracy. That is why we believe it is the right decision to take a very close look at how we protect these cornerstones. 

“Especially today, when we see every day how freedom must be defended in Europe. We should deal with this new normality. We are looking forward to the partnership with Rheinmetall and, as Borussia Dortmund, are consciously opening ourselves up to a dialogue.”

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