Tibet independence campaigners claim victory as Liverpool’s controversial water partnership ends
Unclear whether protests around Anfield and petition to club owner John Henry had any effect as year-long regional partnership is not renewed
English Premier League side Liverpool have ended their controversial partnership with Chinese company Tibet Water, and pro-Tibetan independence campaigners are claiming victory.
Gloria Montgomery, head of advocacy and campaigns at the Tibet Society, said: “This is a massive victory for Tibetans and the nearly 90,000 people globally who called on Liverpool FC to ditch the deal.”
On the SumofUs website, where campaigners staged their petition, an update on September 7 read: “Result! Liverpool FC has dropped Tibet Water!
“Over the past year, together with Tibet groups we’ve signed petitions, tweeted and shared images on Facebook, and driven a mobile billboard around Anfield on match days. And right as the new football season is getting underway, LFC have opted not to renew the controversial deal.”
— Tibet Society (@tibetsociety) September 11, 2018
However, the Liverpool Echo reports that a renewal of the year-long deal inked last July on the back of two “sold-out matches” in Hong Kong, was never considered by the club.
The controversial link-up was widely criticised by those opposed to what they SumOfUs described as China’s occupation of Tibet, arguing that Tibet Water Resources Limited can only operate “because the Chinese military occupation allows it to”.
The club remained unmoved in the face of protests and made no public comment on the matter.
Nevertheless, the message from campaigners was crystal clear.
Statement from Central Tibetan Administration on Liverpool FC's deal with Tibet Water Resources Limited https://t.co/8hxFlDgTwU
— Prof Simon Chadwick (@Prof_Chadwick) September 14, 2017
Mandie McKeown, Campaigns Coordinator for the International Tibet Network said: “We are delighted that Liverpool FC have ceased accepting sponsorship from a company that exploits the military occupation of Tibet and we hope it brings them further good luck for the 2018-19 season.”
When the deal was first announced, sports analyst Simon Chadwick claimed it was sure to stir controversy.
“As soon as club officials first heard the word ‘Tibet’, it should have been sufficient for them to retrench from any proposed deal and look instead at other potential sources of sponsorship revenue from within China,” wrote Chadwick in the Post last October.
The club currently sits top of the Premier League with four wins from four and will resume their domestic campaign this weekend with a visit to Tottenham Hotspur before kicking off their Uefa Champions League charge when they host Paris St-Germain next week.