Nike has terminated its endorsement contract with Phillippine boxer, Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday after he made derogatory remarks about gay couples. In an official statement made by the sport wear company, they announced;
“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent, Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community. We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.”
Based on Pacquiao’s comments, a spokesman confirmed that he is no longer on the company’s endorsement roster. Pacquiao, 37, had endorsed Nike for a little more than eight years. He made his remarks on a Filipino television station earlier this week.
“Have you seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations? If you have male-to-male or female-to-female [relationships], then people are worse than animals.”
Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, said he understood Nike’s decision:
“Nike is in the business of selling its products to as wide of an audience as they can, and Manny’s comments were insulting to a lot of people. His comments were made to a Filipino audience, where same-sex marriage is not as accepted as it is here, and Manny is a convert of enlightened Christianity, which does not believe in same-sex relationships. But to people in the United States, his words can only be viewed as hate speech. If I was running Nike, I would have to make the same decision they did,” Arum told ESPN.com.
Manny Pacquiao was more of a billboard for Nike, which had its swoosh on his shorts for fights and on his shoes, instead of a true revenue stream. Few Pacquiao items reached the market. Arum further expressed his stance on Pacquiao’s gay comment to the Associated Press, saying that the boxing star’s comment is “diametrically opposed to what he believe.”
“I’m in favor of gay rights and same-sex marriage, I’m apologetic personally to the gay movement in the United States.”
An eight-time champion, Pacquiao is the Philippines’ most famous person and most popular athlete. He has represented the Sarangani province in the Philippines’ House of Representatives since May 2010, though he has drawn criticism for seldom showing up for legislative duties. Polls in the Philippines show he is a strong contender for the Senate seat, which many believe will eventually lead him to seek the country’s presidency. A boxing promoter, Frank Warren also told BBC Radio 5 live that the sport did not have a problem with homophobia.
“No matter what walk of life you come from there are bigots. I don’t think it’s a problem for boxing. In Tyson Fury’s case, I hope it was something he said on the spur of the moment. He regrets it. You can’t condemn all of sport because of people’s stupid remarks. They are two boxers out of many thousands of boxers.
“Pacquiao’s certainly lost any type of sponsorship. That’s all finished. No-one’s ever going to sponsor him again. The majority of the fans will be totally abhorred about what he said, but that is going to be the test – how many people decide they want to watch him fight,” said Warren.