Written by Staff Writer by Beatrice Brito, CNN
An NBA star criticized Nike on Wednesday for putting profits before its role in human rights by working with Chinese sportswear company PUMA.
In a Twitter post, former NBA star Charles Barkley wrote, “Nike is scared to speak up about China because they know that with all the opportunities in China (for sportswear) they’re not going to lose. It’s one of the greatest destroyers of minorities we’ve ever seen. History will judge them.”
Nike has frequently encountered controversy about its work in China. In January, Adidas accused the company of cultural appropriation and the ‘three-stripe’ with Asian roots had become the target of targeted graffiti.
BAYERN MUNICH star Arturo Vidal has sold shirts emblazoned with controversial illustrations of Nike balls. Credit: Philipp Opztenberg/Bongarts/Getty Images
It was also revealed in February that PUMA was backing the Chinese Black Panther movement, inspiring the translation of its logo into Chinese. And in October, FIFA banned Chinese FC’s Shandong Luneng from competing after it was found to have been selling replica shirts with shirts with controversial illustrations of Nike balls.
“The focus of Chinese sportswear is on generating income for the company, the Chinese [Football Association] wants to push their rules and regulations and it’s true that we do have an ethics responsibility to get out of that. To leave a legacy for others to come, to show another way, to create more of a global platform for sport and recognize that every individual is important,” said PUMA head Mark Beiers, speaking at a press conference about the #FreeNike campaign.
Shandong Luneng FC president Li Ziliang holds a mock shirt featuring the logo for one of Nike’s schools at the Chinese Football Association awards. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
“When we develop and produce our brand it is with the objective to create an impact at that moment, that’s what we’re trying to do. It’s not like we’re out to reduce people or cause suffering. We do recognize and embrace diversity.”
BAYERN MUNICH star Arturo Vidal, shown here at the FIFA Best awards, has sold shirts emblazoned with controversial illustrations of Nike balls. Credit: Patrick Kovarik/Bongarts/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
“You can’t stand with the civil society, the Chinese government or anyone and then say you care for the planet, the cultures or the people.”
“We’re happy to be a champion of the Civil Society, we’re proud of our Chinese friends and friends all over the world. We’re not here to hurt anybody — we never speak about foreigners and we want everyone to love each other and to welcome each other.”