Tibet groups launch campaign against controversial Liverpool FC deal

5th October 2017

The Premier League giants signed an agreement with Chinese water-bottling company Tibet Water Resources Limited this summer

Tibet groups around the world have launched a campaign to press Premier League footballing giants Liverpool FC to terminate a controversial deal with Chinese water bottling company Tibet Water Resources Limited.

The campaign, which went live today, 5 October, calls on Liverpool FC's owner, John W. Henry, to terminate a deal signed this summer with Tibet Water.

The groups behind the campaign, including Free Tibet and Tibet Society, highlighted the ethical concerns over a deal with a company operating in occupied Tibet, the scene of some the worst and longest-running human rights abuses in the world, and exploiting its resources.

Tibet organisations have already written to Liverpool FC's owner and directors to alert them to the serious situation in Tibet and how their deal with Tibet Water is harmful to both Tibetans and Liverpool FC's reputation. They have since been joined by consumer group SumOfUs to encourage as many people as possible to press Liverpool FC's ownership for an end to the deal.

A lucrative industry

The deal, signed on 24 July, makes Tibet Water Liverpool FC's official regional water partner in China and offers the company a range of promotional and marketing rights.

Reports about the deal state that Liverpool FC, one of the world’s biggest football clubs with a growing Asian fan base, will also offer Tibet Water social media support and access to current players and legendary players from the club's history.

In recent years there has been an influx of Chinese companies into Tibet, seeking to extract its precious natural resources, which includes gold, copper and numerous other metals. There has been a boom in water bottling companies arriving in Tibet, drawn by the fact that Tibet is the source of some of Asia's largest rivers, which flow as far as Bangladesh and Vietnam and provide water to roughly a fifth of the world's population. The glaciers on Tibet's mountain peaks feed into these rivers and are prized by water bottling companies for their purity.

The arrival of these companies in Tibet has been supported by the Chinese government. In 2014, under an initiative called “Sharing Tibet’s Water with the World”, the regional government of the Tibet Autonomous Region signed contracts with sixteen major companies to expand the water bottling industry in Tibet

In November 2015, a new ten-year plan to expand the industry was announced. This expansion has been incentivised with tax breaks to companies bottling water in Tibet and a lower extraction fee for water than elsewhere in China.

Tibetans handing out leaflets before Liverpool FC's match with Watford in August

Tibetans absent

Tibet Groups around the world have expressed concerns that these water bottling, mining and extraction activities in Tibet are only able to take place due to China's military occupation, and that the Tibetan people have been given no say over how their resources are used. Tibetans inside Tibet have also demonstrated their opposition to their natural resources being taken, regularly defying police to carry out environmental protests across the country.

Tibetans in the UK have also been very vocal in their opposition to the deal. Tibetans and Tibet campaigners in the UK have attended Liverpool matches to hand out information to inform supporters about the implications of Liverpool FC’s links to Tibet’s occupation.

Liverpool FC fans have also been in contact with Free Tibet and Tibet Society directly to express their serious concerns about the agreement signed by their club.

Take action

Stand with Tibetans and tell Liverpool FC's owner that the military occupation and exploitation of Tibet’s resources must not be legitimised. The club's directors must drop the deal.