David Beckham has ditched his controversial kangaroo skin football boots for synthetic ones following a four year campaign by international animal group Viva!. The soccer star had been strongly criticised for encouraging the slaughter of wild kangaroos " the largest massacre of wildlife on the planet.
Beckham's new boots - Adidas Cardinal Red/Silver Absolutes, which he helped to design " are made from high-tec synthetic materials. Promoted as the "most accurate, lightest and most powerful' Predators ever, they will be on Beckham's feet at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The rest of the +Predator Absolute range and much of the F50 range will continue to be made from kangaroo leather.
Aussie football legend, Craig Johnston, designed the original Predator boot from synthetic materials and has voiced his opposition to the killing of kangaroos to make football boots. Adidas is now one of the world's biggest customers for kangaroo leather.
"We welcome the fact that Beckham has finally ditched his bloody kanga boots,' says Viva! campaigner Justin Kerswell. "If these synthetics are the best Predators ever, there can be no excuse for Adidas to carry on using the skins of dead kangaroos. If synthetics are good enough for one of the highest paid football players in the world, then they're good enough for the rest of us!'
Last year, the slaughter of 3.9 million adult kangaroos was authorised for meat and leather. Every year, tens of thousands of baby "joeys' " useless by-products of the kangaroo industry " are dragged from their dead mothers' pouches and killed by being stamped on, bludgeoned with iron pipes or decapitated. The Australian Government has so far refused to release its kill quota for 2006.
"We hope this indicates that they are at last embarrassed by their cruel, wildlife for cash policy, encouraged by Adidas. We call on Adidas to drag itself into the 21st century and put animals and ecology before profit. Our message to the public is simple - don't buy anything that comes from a kangaroo and don't buy anything that comes from Adidas.'
In the past, Viva! has provided Beckham with detailed information on the massacre, including shocking video footage. The group believes that Beckham's change of heart follows major UK press attention last year following a crash in targeted kangaroo populations.
For further information contact Justin Kerswell, Juliet Gellatley or Tony Wardle on 0117 944 1000.
Notes for Editors: Images of kangaroos and kangaroo shooting are available from Viva!.