Adidas cuts ties with Kanye West over anti-Semitic remarks

Their lucrative partnership is estimated to be worth up to $4.7 billion

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Following growing pressure, German sportswear retailer adidas announced it is ending its hugely successful partnership with Kanye West over his offensive and anti-Semitic remarks.

“Adidas does not tolerate anti-Semitism and any other sort of hate speech," the company said on Tuesday. “Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness."

It is the latest in a long line of brands and personalities to raise serious question marks over the behaviour of West, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after being admitted to psychiatric care in 2016.

Celebrities and others on social media have been urging adidas to act, following West's hugely controversial show on the sidelines of Paris Fashion Week where he wore a T-shirt with "White Lives Matter" which drew widespread condemnation.

Ye at the Givenchy spring/summer 2023 fashion show during the Paris Womenswear Fashion Week in October. AFP

Adidas said at the beginning of the month that it was placing its lucrative Yeezy sneaker deal with the rapper under review.

West, who has legally changed his name to Ye, has full ownership and creative control of the Yeezy brand, which launched in 2015 with the adidas Yeezy trainer. The business is estimated by UBS Group AG to be worth between $3.2 billion and $4.7bn.

The sportswear brand is just the latest company to end connections with Ye. He has been suspended from Twitter and Instagram over anti-Semitic posts that the social networks said violated their policies.

He recently suggested slavery was a choice and called the Covid-19 vaccine the “mark of the beast", among other comments. Ye's talent agency, Creative Artists Agency, dropped him, and the MRC studio announced on Monday that it is shelving a complete documentary about him.

The Balenciaga fashion house cut ties with Ye last week, while JPMorganChase has asked him to choose another banking service by November 21, although the banking break-up was in the works even before Ye's anti-Semitic comments.

In unaired parts of an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Ye also floated a series of conspiracy theories touching on anti-Semitic tropes and suggested that “fake children” were planted outside his house.

In recent weeks, he has also ended his company's association with Gap and has told Bloomberg that he plans to cut ties with his corporate suppliers.

After he was suspended from Twitter and Facebook, Ye offered to buy conservative social network Parler. "In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves," he said while announcing the plan.

Ye is in talks to buy right-wing social media app Parler. Reuters

The right-wing social media app, which has been banned by Apple and Google several times, was used to help coordinate the January 6 riots on the US Capitol last year.

The family of George Floyd said last week they are suing the rapper for $250 million after he claimed Floyd's death was the result of drug abuse, not from being murdered by a police officer.

West made the comments over the weekend on the podcast Drink Champs, claiming Floyd died from a fentanyl overdose. In the same interview, which has since been removed from YouTube, he made several anti-Semitic comments.

Roxie Washington, the mother of Floyd’s young daughter, filed a lawsuit against West via Witherspoon Law Group and Dixon and Dixon Attorneys at Law, on the grounds of harassment, misappropriation, defamation and infliction of emotional distress on their daughter

"Kanye's comments are a repugnant attempt to discount George Floyd's life and to profit from his inhumane death," said attorney Pat D Dixon III. "We will hold Mr West accountable for his flagrant remarks against Mr Floyd's legacy."

- Additional reporting by AP

Updated: October 26, 2022, 6:24 AM
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