July 25, 2007
The California Supreme Court has banned the sale of soccer boots promoted by football star David Beckham and other goods made from kangaroo leather, following a long running legal battle between Adidas and animal welfare group Viva!. This comes as a second major embarrassment to the sports giant, after Beckham – who promotes the kangaroo skin Predator boot and has recently made his debut for US football club LA Galaxy – this week distanced himself from trade by saying he only wears synthetic boots.
The Supreme Court decision overturned two lower court decisions holding that California's kangaroo ban interferes with federal support of Australia's wildlife management plans. Legislation allowing kangaroo products made by Adidas and other companies passed the state Senate earlier this year. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is being urged by Viva! to veto the legislation if it passes the Assembly.
Viva! opposes kangaroo products because hunters can mistakenly shoot endangered species, and claims that the trade is cruel as kangaroos are sometimes shot during night hunting parties, and many are clubbed to death as babies. It also claims that other species of kangaroo are anything but abundant, with official Australian Government figures showing there are fewer than half as many kangaroos overall as there were in 2001*. Despite fears that such a dramatic decline in numbers could lead to extinction for some species, the commercial kill quota remains high at 3.6 million.
David Beckham ditched his controversial kangaroo skin football boots for synthetic ones in 2006 following a four year campaign by Viva!. The move came after the group sent him disturbing footage of kangaroo slaughter.
"Every year, millions of kangaroos are shot in the wild, at night – unmonitored and out of sight of any witnesses”, says Viva! campaigns manager Justin Kerswell. “Over hunting and drought has seen kangaroo populations collapsing. California’s long standing protection is vital to stop this apparent drive to extinction for these beautiful animals. This is an important victory for wildlife, but we will be keeping a keen eye on developments – urging Governor Schwarzenegger to terminate any further plans that might put kangaroos in jeopardy.
“We are also delighted that David Beckham has reaffirmed his commitment to animal welfare by only wearing synthetic football boots. We urge him to use his position to put pressure on Adidas to drop kangaroo leather for good – and urge consumers everywhere to give kangaroo products the boot.”
Notes for Editors: Images of kangaroos and kangaroo shooting are available from Viva!.
* Wildlife Trade Assessments, Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage