The Pepsi-affiliated bottling company in the Gaza Strip known for sponsoring Hamas-affiliated events, says that the global soft drink seller is aware of its activities and has no objections, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
Bottling company Yazegi told the Free Beacon that the global soft drink seller has no problem with its sponsorship of the Al Yarmouk and Beit Lahiya stadiums where Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has been seen playing soccer with Pepsi-branded players.
“Recently, Yazegi Group signed an agreement with the Palestinian football association in the West Bank and Gaza (Palestine) to sponsor the Palestine Cup Tournament which called after that ‘PEPSI Cup Tournament,’” a Yazegi spokesperson told the Free Beacon.
The Palestine Cup Tournament is a local event which takes place in the West Bank and Gaza, and is supported by the Palestinian Football Association in collaboration with FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, according to Yazegi.
“This event is part of our support as a privet [sic] sector to the society; So [sic] Hamas has nothing to do with this event,” Yazegi said, adding that it is “an independent institution [and] isn’t following any political part [sic].”
PepsiCo “is well oriented with this event,” the statement added.
PepsiCo spokesman Jeff Dahncke told the Free Beacon Yazegi is given latitude in its promotional activities.
“PepsiCo does not sponsor any soccer teams in Gaza,” Dahncke told the Free Beacon when asked about Hamas’ Haniyeh playing soccer with players sporting a Pepsi logo.
“The photos depict a soccer league involving local community teams, and the local independent bottler producing Pepsi has a relationship with the league that allows for promotional activities to take place at the soccer venues,” Dahncke said. “Soccer is a global marketing platform for Pepsi and the brand is associated with the sport around the world.”
Dahncke did not respond when asked if the company objected to the use of its logo in a stadium where official Hamas activities are taking place.
Pepsi’s famous logo has been featured on Palestinian soccer uniforms and is strung throughout Gaza’s two main stadiums, and the Yazegi Group, has in the past made anti-Israel comments on its Facebook page.
Al Yarmouk in particular has also been the site of many official Hamas gatherings and was targeted by Israeli forces last year after Hamas terrorists were caught launching rockets from within the stadium.