Puma kicks kangaroo leather from its athletic shoes; animal rights groups applaud

One of the world’s biggest sporting goods company’s has ditched use of kangaroo leather from its premier soccer shoes.

Puma announced its King-brand soccer cleats, worn by legends of the sport including Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Eusébio, Lothar Matthäus and Pelé, will now be made with a non-animal based upper material.

Called K-BETTER technology, the company says the change will provide the same level of performance for the athlete, but without the slaughter of kangaroos. The company also said in its March 2 release it will stop producing football shoes with kangaroo leather altogether this year.

Puma is ditching kangaroo leather in its soccer cleats. Photo: Puma

“The PUMA KING is PUMA’s most iconic franchise in football and has always stood for using the best materials and the latest in innovation,” Peter Stappen, Lead Product Line Manager Teamsport Footwear, said in a statement. “Over the years we have seen the boot evolve and become ingrained in on pitch and off pitch football culture, from the pitches to the terraces.”

Animal welfare advocates are thrilled.

“This move will spare thousands of gentle kangaroos & their joeys from being shot or clubbed to death each year,” Animals Australia posted on social media. “Thank you, PUMA!”

The Center for a Humane Economy launched a campaign in 2020 to end the use of kangaroo leather in soccer shoes, which claims 2 million of the animals a year.

“Soccer cleats made of kangaroo skins make up an estimated 70 percent of the demand for commercially slaughtered kangaroos,” Kate Schultz, senior attorney for the Center for a Humane Economy, said in a statement. “Many soccer cleat manufacturers – including the biggest names, such as Nike, Adidas, and, before now, Puma – have long propped up this lucrative industry that represents the largest commercial slaughter of land-based wild animals in the world.”

The center’s president Wayne Pacelle said the announcement will put pressure on Nike and Adidas to purge their supply chains of kangaroo skins in soccer shoes.

“Non-animal-based fabrics are athletically and morally superior, and every company in the sector should follow Puma’s lead,” he said.

The new shoe will debut on pitch with Granit Xhaka, Ingrid Engen, Nabil Fekir and Lena Lattwein among others, the company added.

They are also for sale in retail stores and online now.

The K-BETTER shoe is non-animal based upper material, which is also partially recycle. Photo: Puma

It builds on a trend toward synthetic materials.

As the Center for a Humane Economy pointed out, out of 172 goals scored in last year’s World Cup, 164 came from players wearing synthetic shoes or to a lesser extent, those made of conventional leather.

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