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

BRASILIA Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:43am 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 agreed on Tuesday to stop selling two raunchy T-shirts months ahead of the World Cup in Brazil after the government complained that they associated the country with 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 (ADSGn.DE), the world's second-largest sportswear maker, 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. Brazil's government is campaigning aggressively to shed the country's reputation as a destination for sex tourism.

"Embratur strongly repudiates the sale of products that link

Brazil's image to sexual appeal," the Brazilian tourism board said in a statement that asked the German multinational to pull the shirts from its stores.

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

Adidas is one of the main sponsors of the event organized by soccer's governing body FIFA and the maker of its official ball.

President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil´s first woman president, said her government 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.

The ministry of women´s affairs said the shirts were not just offensive to Brazilian women but exposed them to the "barbarism" of sexual predators.

"This is all the more shocking in a country that just elected a women as its highest authority, which brought greater respect for women and zero tolerance for any form of violence against them," a ministry statement said.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Dan Grebler and Richard Chang)

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