Adidas pulls sexualized World Cup T-shirts at Brazil's request

BRASILIA Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:31am IST

The Adidas logo is pictured on a shirt during the company's annual news conference in Herzogenaurach March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Dalder/Files

The Adidas logo is pictured on a shirt during the company's annual news conference in Herzogenaurach March 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Michael Dalder/Files

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BRASILIA (Reuters) - Adidas on Tuesday acceded to a request from Brazil's tourism board, which said the sporting goods maker should stop selling two T-shirts it marketed ahead of this year's World Cup because they encourage sexual tourism.

One shirt shows a bikini-clad woman with open arms on a sunny Rio de Janeiro beach under the word-play "Looking to Score." The other has an "I love Brazil" heart resembling the upside-down buttocks of a woman wearing a thong bikini bottom.

Adidas said the shirts would not be sold anymore, adding in a statement that they were from a limited edition that was only on sale in the United States.

The shirt designs touched a nerve in Brazil, where people often complain about foreign stereotypes of Brazilian sensuality. They also irked Brazil's government, which is campaigning aggressively to shed the country's reputation as a destination for sex tourism.

Tourism board Embratur said it contacted Adidas (ADSGn.DE) to ask the German multinational to pull the shirts from its stores.

"Embratur strongly repudiates the sale of products that link

Brazil's image to sexual appeal," it said in a statement.

The shirts went on sale in Adidas shops in the United States at a time when Brazil is preparing to host the World Cup soccer tournament, which kicks off on June 12.

President Dilma Rousseff said Brazil would crack down on sex tourism and the exploitation of children and adolescents during the Cup, which is expected to draw 600,000 foreign fans.

"Brazil is happy to receive tourists for the World Cup, but it is also ready to combat sex tourism," she said in a burst of Twitter messages that included a hot line number to report cases of sexual exploitation.

Adidas, the world's second-largest sportswear maker, is one of the main sponsors of the event organized by soccer's governing body FIFA and the maker of its official ball.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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