Tag Archives: Adidas

When a Name Taints the Game

December 10, 2015


By Brianna Meyer – Thompson Rivers University JD Student

Whether it is the NHL, CFL or beyond – few things in this world can rival the energy that radiates throughout athletic stadiums as fans cheer. Thousands of people of all ages stand united under a single umbrella of passion to push their teams hopefully through the next period, quarter or inning. Faces are painted, jerseys are adorned and the chants are deafening. Go Blackhawks. Go Eskimos. Go Redskins.

For some, however, a darker meaning lurks behind these cheers. For Ottawa native Ian Campeau, an Anishnabe (Ojibway) of the Nipissing First Nation, the use of symbols and imagery associated with his Indigenous heritage by both amateur and professional sports teams is viewed as disrespectful to his culture and a catalyst to breeding racism in a public arena. He argues that “[racist team names] are the most in-your-face socially acceptable systemic oppression within our society and yet it’s used by children’s football teams. It’s not even a gateway drug for racism, it is racism.”

Campeau has attained some success at a local level – where he has convinced grassroots teams to change their names. He admits, however, that convincing professional franchises such as the Edmonton Eskimos to follow suit is an entirely different battle. Turning to our American neighbours, a similar gap exists between amateur and professional sports team support. The National Congress of American Indians stated in 2013 that tribal advocates have obtained some success in eliminating over two-thirds of derogatory Indian sports mascots and logos over the past 50 years.

In 2005, the American Psychological Association addressed this issue by recommending “the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams and organizations…. Research has shown that [it] has a negative effect on not only American Indian students but all students.”

This call to action was picked up sportswear giant Adidas last month. Adidas announced that it would offer free design resources and financial assistance to any high school that wants to change their logo or mascot from Native American imagery or symbolism. Approximately 2000 high schools in the United States continue to use names that “cause concern for many tribal communities.”

Before we rebrand consumer loyalty from Nike to Adidas however, it begs mentioning that Adidas is still making hundreds of millions of dollars selling uniforms to the Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians and the list goes on. This hypocrisy has not gone undetected by critics of name changes at the professional level. The power of shareholders, team fans or partner organizations to resist such change is still an ongoing issue.

Straight from the mouth of Adidas – “sports have the power to change lives. Young athletes have hope, they have desire and they will have a will to win. Importantly, sports must be inclusive. Today we are harnessing the influence of sports in our culture to lead change to our communities.”

Are double standards for schools and professional teams a way to facilitate this inclusion? Is it a necessary compromise? Should we ever compromise on issues as systemic as racism?

These questions remain unanswered but this issue will not disappear until the offensive names do. Like Adidas says, “sports have the power to change lives.” It is up to us to decide that when the game ends, when the cheers are silent, when we all go home – if that change is ultimately for the better.

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FIFA: Corruption, Scandal, and Sponsorship: A New Hope

October 12, 2015

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By Tariq Salloum – Thompson Rivers University 2L JD Student

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the universe’s largest spanning sporting organization with six confederations and 209 national associations, indeed the FIFA Empire stretches nearly across every corner of the globe and there is no sight of its overwhelming success slowing down anytime soon. However, not all is well in the empire, with charges pending against multiple senior level FIFA level officials for corruption in the United States and the five-time elected President Sepp Blatter facing corruptions charges in Switzerland, and the FIFA ethics board internally investigating its top members – it seems the sponsors have had enough.

As FIFA’s top officials find themselves strife with corruption allegations, major sponsors such as Coca Cola, McDonalds, Budweiser and Visa are done with their wait-and-see approach with FIFA’s top officials, each issuing statements within hours of each other voicing their disdain with FIFA’s top officials including the president, Darth Vade …err – Sepp Blatter. So the question becomes, can our world’s top capitalists do what our world’s top governments can’t do, mainly remove Seth Blatter and his inner circle from the helm of the world’s most beautiful game.

FIFA is estimated to make $177 million a year in marketing deals from top tier sponsors such as Visa, Adidas, Hyundai and Coca-Cola, all of which have recently signed eight year deals worth a cumulative total of $993 million just between these four global corporations. In 2014, a World Cup year, FIFA is estimated to have made $2.1 billion dollars in revenue. Indeed, with all the corporate money that FIFA may lose if its top sponsors live up to their threats and were to withdraw its sponsorship and support if Sepp Blatter was to stay in power is considerable. One would suspect that Sepp Blatter’s fate with FIFA had been sealed.

In the most recent developments, it seems as the arm twisting by the sponsors has worked at least in the interim. As FIFA’s ethics committee has decided to suspend President Seth Blatter and those in his inner circle for at least 90 days, with no details being released until their investigation is finalized due to Articles 41 and 42 of the FIFA code of ethics.

However, Blatter issued a statement through his lawyers saying he was “disappointed” the ethics committee had not followed its own code in allowing him an opportunity to be heard, and claimed the suspension was based on “a misunderstanding of the actions of the attorney general in Switzerland.”

Amidst the united global alliance demanding the resignation of the 79 year old, Blatter still remains defiant and why wouldn’t he be? Up until now he has faced no real consequences for his alleged corruption. In fact, soccer/football and FIFA continue to grow in popularity worldwide year in and year out with no end in sight. No matter what, it seems that the heads of FIFA and the law are going to collide sooner rather than later. Whether it be business law, criminal law, international law, or internal regulations; it’s all sports law at this point and fittingly it seems that the scandals surrounding FIFA are only going to be settled in an adverse arena – albeit a legal arena – nonetheless the score will be settled once and for all … eventually.

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