Adidas to withdraw sexualized Brazil T-shirts

World Cup sponsors Adidas says it will pull two controversial Brazil-themed World Cup T-shirts after complaints from the country's tourism board.

World Cup sponsors Adidas says it will pull two controversial Brazil-themed World Cup T-shirts after complaints from the country's tourism board.

By Ben Tavener

SAO PAULO - Adidas says it will withdraw two World Cup T-shirts at the centre of a row over the sexualization of Brazilian women, the company said Tuesday.

Brazil's tourism board, Embratur, said earlier on Tuesday that it “vehemently repudiated the sale of products that link Brazil's image to sexual appeal.” It later asked the German sporting goods company, one of the World Cup's largest sponsors, to stop selling the shirts.

Brazil has recently stepped up its long-running campaign against sex tourism, including through its overseas tourism agencies, in the run-up to Carnival and the World Cup.

One of the Brazil-themed shirts depicts a woman in a bikini on a beach in Rio de Janeiro, with Sugarloaf Mountain in the background and the words “Looking to score”, while the other shows the words “I love Brazil” with the heart shape replacing the word “love” in the shape of a woman's upside-down buttocks in a thong.

In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, Adidas said the sale of the shirts was restricted to the US market.

“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.

By Tuesday night the items were no longer visible on the company's website.

Brazil's Human rights minister Maria do Rosario tweeted that Adidas had contacted the Brazilian government to confirm it was pulling the shirts, and praised the “very important fast reaction from the government and society in rejecting sexualized items.”

The shirts touched a raw nerve for those in Brazil who have often decried the sexualized stereotype of Brazilians promoted abroad – often involving bikini-clad women.

“Brazil is happy to receive tourists coming here for the World Cup, but is also ready to combat sex tourism,” President Rousseff warned on Twitter.

Feminist acitivist Maria Fernanda Marcelino, who leads the Brazil wing of the World March of Women, told Anadolu Agency that she rejected Adidas's decision to sell the shirts in the first place.

“We repudiate any action that seeks to profiteer from the sexualization and exploitation of women in Brazil and turn them into mere marketing,” she said.

Ms. Marcelino also called on football governing body and World Cup organizers FIFA to work with charities and the Brazilian government in combatting sexual tourism in Brazil.

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