Adidas Arsenal racist tweets put the company under fire. An automatic ad campaign by Adidas for the new Arsenal jersey with user nicknames on Twitter has been diverted to broadcast racist, insulting or anti-Semitic tweets.
Malicious Internet users have hijacked an Adidas ad campaign for the new Arsenal jersey by creating racist tweets. On Twitter, the British account of the equipment manufacturer found itself automatically posting shocking terms and sometimes even racist and anti-Semitic.
The three-band brand clearly does not completely control social networks. Adidas had to remove many offensive, racist and anti-Semitic tweets that had been automatically been posted to its UK Twitter account as part of the promotion of Arsenal’s new home jersey.
It all began Monday with the announcement of the new London club outfit previously equipped by Puma. In order to create a maximum of social buzz, Adidas has set up a special operation: if a user used the hashtag #DareToCreate, the official account @adidasUK would reply with an automatic design showing a jersey of the Gunners custom with the name of the user’s account. A staging of some sort of official presentations of players.
But malicious Internet users took advantage of the fact that this automated system was not protected by a filter against sensitive and offensive words. As a result, several people have made the Adidas account display jerseys with vulgar and racist listings.
A spokesman for the German brand, quoted by The Guardian, lamented an “improper use” of their automated system and the behavior of malicious people: “Due to a small minority creating offensive versions of the jersey, we immediately disabled the feature and the Twitter team will investigate.” Arsenal also spoke out to condemn these abuses.
Last year, the same problem had hit the Twitter account of the team of France: the initiative allowed Internet users to see their name be transformed into a Russian-sounding version. While some clever people had taken the opportunity to make jokes, others had also chosen to pass offensive insults and terms.
Adidas doesn’t own its famous logo
The German sports equipment manufacturer Adidas can not register its three bands as a trademark in the European Union, said Wednesday the European justice.
The European Union Court on Wednesday ruled that the three Adidas strips were not an “ordinary figurative mark”. He also added that “Adidas does not prove” that these bands “acquired, throughout the territory of the Union, a distinctive character as a result of the use made of them”.
As a reminder, Adidas registered its three bands in the EU in 2014 with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). But the competing Belgian company Shoe Branding Europe, with whom the German equipment manufacturer has long been engaged in a battle on these parallel bands, had obtained in 2016 the cancellation of this patent from the same body. The judgment of the Tribunal, this Wednesday, confirms this cancellation.
Adidas can still appeal to the EU Court of Justice to challenge this judgment.
According to UEIPO, a mark “is the symbol by which” customers recognize a company and allows it to differentiate itself from its competitors. It may be a word, figurative pattern, color or sound. Companies can file for several.
Racism in soccer
The most shocking image of recent did not come from some battle field in the Middle-east. But from San Siro stadium in Milan, one of the most prestigious in the world, during an Italian Serie A match between Inter and Naples (1-0). Kalidou Koulibaly, Senegalese defender of the club of the south of the peninsula, was the victim of racist insults uttered by Lombard supporters, and the referee did nothing.
The supporters of Inter are not at their first attempt. In 2005, the Ivorian Marc-André Zoro, who wore the shirt of Messina, was called a monkey during a game. In tears, the player had wanted to leave the field, but his teammates had dissuaded him. And seven years later, several black Tottenham players were treated the same way in a Europa League match against the Italian club.
Italy is not the only European country to be affected by acts of racism: chants, insults, throwing of bananas are recurrent in the stadiums. The Frenchman Blaise Matuidi in January 2018 or the Ghanaian Sulley Muntari in May 2017 were the victims. In England, Raheem Sterling, Manchester City’s Jamaican-born English international, was targeted in December 2018 by racist remarks by Chelsea fans, who, a month earlier, had benefited from a UEFA Europa League match. Hungary to sing anti-Semitic chants for the fans of Tottenham.
England, however, is one of the countries where racism in the stadiums has declined the most in recent years. France also made sure to clean up its stadiums, thanks to an offensive policy including judicial sanctions, stadium bans and subscription against individuals convicted of racist acts. Some groups of supporters have also cleaned up their members.
But in other European countries, laxity remains the rule. In Italy, the Football Federation and the Professional League are known for their lack of severity. In Eastern Europe, the situation is even more worrying. “In many countries, as there is no video surveillance system in the stadiums, it is difficult to identify, challenge and sanction supporters who engage in racist acts. And they feel a sense of impunity, “says a police officer used to stadiums of French Ligue 1.
Former Moroccan international defender, himself a victim of insults in 2008, Abdeslam Ouaddou calls for more severity. “We can not say that nothing has been done in recent years. Some federations take sanctions. UEFA [Union of European Football Associations] is taking advantage of European cup matches to broadcast awareness spots, the former player admits. But I still feel that we do not go far enough. We impose one or two games behind closed doors, we impose fines, supporters are prohibited from stadium. But after ? “
Former Beninese international Jean-Marc Adjovi-Boco, one of the founders of the Diambars Academy in Senegal, calls for greater solidarity: “What Carlo Ancelotti said after the match in Milan goes well meaning. If a player is the victim of insults, screaming monkeys or racist songs, why would not his team leave the field? To my knowledge, this is almost never the case. And I do not even speak of the attitude of the opponents, who, most of the time, do not react “.
In May 2014, Patrick Vieira, then under-21 coach from Manchester City, had asked his team to leave the field during a match in Rijeka (Croatia), after the expulsion of Seko Fofana, one of his players, who had responded to a racist remark from an opponent.
Abdeslam Ouaddou recalls that such insults are not inconsequential: “Racism is not a crime, it is a crime! We attack a person with words, we finish it in front of thousands of spectators. And behind, we must live with this pain that also affects the families of players, their loved ones. When he himself was insulted by a messin supporter in 2008, he tried to explain himself with this individual, which earned him a yellow card brandished by the referee, Fabien Ledentu. “This supporter had already insulted me several times. I had reported it to the referee, who had just asked me to stay focused on my match, while I was just asking to be protected, “he said.
Jean-Marc Adjovi-Boco is hardly surprised by what he considers a lack of voluntarism. “If we wanted to significantly reduce cases of racism, we would have done so for a long time. For example, a referee should not be able to stop a match in the event of a skid, but the duty to do so. For that, it is necessary that the things were decided by the competent authorities “, recalls the Beninois, which militates for harsher sanctions. “Long-term or even life-long bans, in addition to criminal penalties, do not seem excessive to me, because some people responsible for racist acts are in a sense of impunity,” he argues.
In this context, FIFA’s decision, announced in September 2016, to dissolve its anti-racism committee, set up three years earlier by Sepp Blatter, was much surprised, even though the body was quick to point out that the fight against corruption racism “was a priority issue. “If FIFA does not want to invest more, it means to me that the problem is not considered as it should be, regrets Abdeslam Ouaddou, who calls for a collective awareness. Ideally, all football families should meet: governing bodies, federations, player unions, referees … to decide what measures to take to effectively combat racism. Because if everyone acts in his corner, it will not go very far.”