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Kangaroo Leather Controversy

It's all about the shoes.  Keeping them clean, polishing them after playing, soaking them in water so they mold to your feet.  But, with soccer cleats, it really all comes down to the quality of the leather. 

See soccer shoe care - how to take care of your soccer shoes.

However, what about the pictures you see of kids in Brazil or Africa playing barefooted, and with a ball that doesn't really seem like a ball at all, a patch of yarn cobbled together.  Is it all about the shoes?  Is the leather all really important? Do young kids need such expensive soccer shoes?

Soccer in Africa - Barefoot and No Real Ball
Image Source - Play Soccer

My younger brother used to harp on me for buying shoes made of kangaroo leather. Then I heard that Kangaroos were everywhere in Australia, all over the place and over breeding, and this seemed to justify killing them and the use of their leather for shoes. But just because kangaroos are everywhere and not endangered, it doesn’t make killing them for their hides or leather ok, does it? And it certainly brings up the question of how they are treated on the whole.

Update: I was wrong though. The fact is kangaroos are being killed in areas where they are quasi-extinct (i.e. less than 5 kangaroos per square kilometer). There must be an alternative to kangaroo leather that's just as supple for soccer shoes. Moreover, Kangaroo populations dropped up to 70% nationwide from 2001-2006 due to the drought and overkilling.

What to do? We still have to wear soccer cleats don’t we. We still want good and soft leather. Naively, I scoffed at my brother, as older brothers do, didn’t really think too much about it. If they’re not endangered then what’s the problem? But even though they may not be endangered now, they very soon could be.

Either way though, if the use of their leather is going to continue, we must treat these animals humanely above all else. Doesn't the line begin to blur as we care less and less about how animals are treated--and step into the realm of how we treat one and another. 

Just ask NFL footballer Michael Vick about the treatment of animals. Then there's the other issue, there are a number of NFL players who have broken the law and were re-instated even though their offenses were more severe. Let's get back to the story though:

The activists oppose kangaroo products because they say hunters mistakenly shoot endangered species. They also say abundant kangaroo species are killed cruelly — sometimes shot during night hunting parties, and sometimes clubbed to death as babies.

“We sued because of the horrific way kangaroos are killed,” said Lauren Ornelas of Viva International Voice for Animals, which filed the lawsuit. “We sued because of the way Adidas is snubbing their noses at California’s law.”

Beckham even came under fire for his relationship with Adidas and what you might call Kangaroogate:

Last year, Beckham announced his Predator cleats would be made of synthetic leather instead of kangaroo hide.

“David wears synthetic Predator boots so this ruling has no relevance to us,” Beckham’s spokesman Simon Oliveira wrote in a terse e-mail. Oliveira declined further comment.

Adidas spent $435,000 in lobbying efforts since 2003, the first year legislation was introduced to repeal the kangaroo ban.

The legislation cleared a key Assembly committee last week after passing the full Senate in May.

More to come on this as we learn more. There has to be a compromise and we have to treat kangaroos and all animals with respect and care. If we don't, then these animals will become endangered and certain species will go extinct.

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