Story By: Aleksandra Stefanova, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Golder’s News & Sport Ltd.
Top German club FC St Pauli are under growing pressure to ditch kit manufacturer Under Armour after it was found staff had been putting visits to strip clubs on their expenses.
The firm, which also sponsors Premier League club Southampton, was already a critical choice for FC St Pauli because of its links to hunting clothing and its close relationship with gun organisations.
But now a report in the Wall Street Journal has revealed that the sports clothing company has banned its employees from visiting strip clubs on company cards.
The trips include visits by chairman and chief executive Kevin Plank who apparently went with athletes and other co-workers to the strip clubs after corporate or sporting events.
It came to light after women at the company complained that it was demeaning for executives to visit the organisations.
It was also revealed that the climate at the company meant that women were invited to company events based on whether they were good-looking and appealing to male guests or not.
The company that was founded by 46-year-old CEO Mr. Plank in 1996 has grown rapidly into a global brand with nearly 5 billion USD (3.8 billion GBP) in annual revenue last year and a roster of big-name players such as Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold and two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry.
But now the German club is one of the clubs where fans are increasing the pressure after 50,000 signed a petition online demanding that the deal with the company due to end in 2021 be cancelled.
Insiders said the club had already been considering ending the deal when the contract was up for renewal, but now it is reportedly on the cards that they might do so earlier.
Asked by German media the club’s business leader 55-year-old Andreas Rettig said that “in the search for more independence we are always thinking about taking FC St Pauli in different directions, however there are no concrete plans” and that as long as the contract with Under Armour is running they will not be any changes.
Southampton have been contacted but have not offered a response to the situation.