The German company, the world’s second-largest sporting goods manufacturer, had been promoting the T-shirts ahead of this year’s soccer World Cup in Brazil. One shows a woman in a bikini along with Rio de Janeiro’s Sugarloaf mountain and the phrase “Lookin’ to Score” above the word “Brazil.”
“We always listen carefully to our customers and other stakeholders, so having taken on board their feedback, we have made the decision to withdraw this product line,” Adidas said in a statement. “It is important to stress that this was a limited edition range which was only available in the U.S.”
The decision came a few hours after Brazil’s tourism ministry expressed its anger about the T-shirts. It said it would make a formal complaint through its tourism promotion agency, Embratur, because Adidas was associating “national symbols with drawings carrying sexual connotations.”
“The Ministry of Tourism repudiates any relationship between national icons and images with sex appeal,” the government department said on its website. “This attitude contradicts the official policy of promoting the country and contributes indirectly to the commission of crimes such as the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.”
President Dilma Rousseff said on Twitter today Brazil was happy to welcome tourists but “ready to combat sexual tourism.” She didn’t make a direct reference to the T-shirts.
“The government will increase efforts to prevent sexual exploitation of children and adolescents,” she said.
Adidas is an official sponsor of the World Cup, which kicks off in Sao Paulo on June 12. Last year the company agreed to extend its relationship with soccer’s governing body FIFA to 2030.
To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in Rio de Janeiro at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at email@example.com