California seems an unlikely place to be a bone of contention in the world of Football Boots, but the US State most famous for Hollywood, San Francisco and numerous Lindsey-Lohan-related incidents has gained some notoriety among boots-fans.

adidas Copa Mundials

Probably the most famous K-Leather boot in the World – the Copa Mundial!

First, a bit of back story; for around 35 years, California state law prohibited the importation of Kangaroo skin products, including the leather used to make some of the best football boots in the world, such as the Nike Tiempo Legends and adidas adiPure III.

This was for a number of reasons, firstly, the killing of Kangaroos was viewed as inhumane due to the unchecked nature of the…ahem…harvesting of the leather.

Additionally, it also meant that Cow-Hide Leather (surprisingly more abundant in the US than Kangaroos!) was the best alternative, which was better for the local economy.

adidas football boots in Factory

That was, until January 2007, when a bill (known as SB880) was passed by two California courts to overturn this long-standing law and allow the import of K-Leather for 4 years.

The bill was openly supported by adidas, who ploughed thousands of dollars into lobbying support for the bill and allow them to sell K-Leather football boots in the US State.

But now, the debate between animal-rights groups and the courts has flared up again due to another bill being passed through to extend the ‘exception’ on K-Leather goods until 2016.

Many are asking the bill to be repealed by Governor Schwarzenegger (Still sounds weird…), but the level of support for the bill seems to imply that an overturning is unlikely.

Beckham made the switch to synthetic Predators from the K-Leather PowerSwerves upon moving to LA Galaxy

Speaking of the support, the summary of Bill SB 1345, that anyone can read if they like, actually lists the supporters of the bill – which include:

Adidas America, Inc.
Chivas USA
Los Angeles Galaxy
San Jose Earthquakes
Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association

Which makes for interesting reading given that the 3 Cali-based MLS teams in there are all obviously heavily invested with adidas!

Whilst no figures have been officially revealed, it’s said that adidas has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get support for these last two bills.

Given that they are the single largest buyer of kangaroo-hides in the world, and California has three well-supported MLS teams,  it’s understandable that adidas would want the market of the most populous state in the US to sell football boots to.

Where do you stand on the debate?

For us here at Footy-Boots.com, it’s a definite reminder that of where our boots came from, but it’s also an interesting look into how Sports brands and legal systems can influence something as humble as football boots!

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  1. says: Mike

    Just a small point: In the United States, bills are not “passed” by courts; they are passed by legislatures. Court’s review these laws when a person or entity challenges the law, and then the court upholds the law or strikes it down on some basis (conflict with another law, constitutionality, etc.).

    And as to Andres point, while I don’t disagree with his rhetoric, to be fair, I’d just point out that the Animal rights folks would just as soon we wear no leather at all, but they do tend to take much more offense to what they perceive as the mistreatment of “wild” animals as opposed to domesticated animals. Put another way, they see the treatment of domesticated animals as fairly entrenched in our culture but feel that they need to draw the line at the domesticated creatures.

    I myself wear Mizunos made from K-leather. My wife would be perfectly happy with the ban, however, as she can’t tolerate the smell of these boots!

  2. says: Jake

    I like how the animal rights people are all up in arms about k leather in California, but there are no laws against it anywhere else in the United States and they could care less.

  3. says: cvh23

    from what i’ve heard there is actually a kangaroo overpopulation problem in australia…. they are not some sort of exotic endangered forest animals

  4. says: BBFunnyMan

    Second time I have tried to correct this error:

    David Beckham has been wearing synthetic predators for at least 2 years before he came to the USA. He did not switch because he moved to LA, he had already switched.

    His wife made him switch because she personally is a anti-leather person, but Adidas claimed he did it to have brighter colors.

  5. says: Fifinho

    @cvh23: I’m from Australia and I think maybe “overpopulation” is a bit strong but we certainly have enough kangaroos to go around! lol

  6. says: fido

    perhaps this will push the synthetic leather tech even further? though i believe cow hides and kangaroo hides are taken from those slaughtered for the meat no? that way nothing goes to waste?

  7. says: zc

    I’m from Australia and agree with Fifinho.
    Personally I want K-Leather to be allowed as long as the kangaroos are killed humanely because it is the best type of leather available. Also Fido is right, the animals are killed for meat anyway.

  8. says: Mark

    Kangaroos are culled every year in Australia to keep the numbers down as there is a massive over population.
    They’re also the most environmentally friendly source of leather & meat for that matter as they don’t produce methane & use much lower quantities of water & food.

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