As Western countries persist in bringing politics into the World Cup and other major events, the CEO of Adidas has told Eyes On Events that it's important for his company and others to realize they're in the business of sport, not politics.
Asked by Eyes On Events whether the political atmosphere between Russia and other world powers has influenced the way Adidas and other sports companies have approached the World Cup, Kasper Rørsted said it's important that Adidas refrains from "getting directly into politics" and said he believes it would be wrong if sporting companies got dragged into them.
He went on to explain that the Iranian team is one of 12 teams being sponsored by Adidas. That's despite the fact that Nike pulled out of supplying their shoes because of US sanctions over the Iran deal crisis.
"We equip the Iranian team because a lot of Iranians love football, and at the end of the day we believe in sport, we believe that through sport we have the power to change lives. If we start being a political engine then we don't actually have the freedom to do what we want to do and that's really making people's lives better."
The Danish CEO also noted that the World Cup is a valuable place to promote Adidas, and that having the right teams and players to do that is highly important. Creators are important too, he said, mentioning Kanye West and Stella McCartney by name; both have lines with the sports company. Adidas previously stood behind the outspoken West, despite an inflammatory tweet in which the rapper called slavery a "choice."
"There clearly are some comments we don't support," Rørsted told Bloomberg last month, while still stressing that "Kanye has been and is a very important part of our strategy and has been a fantastic creator, and that's where I'm gonna leave it."
Rørsted also spoke about his experience in Russia thus far, saying he attended the opening game of the World Cup. "It was amazing, it was a fantastic experience to be in Moscow and see the city, feel the atmosphere, see the people."
The Dane also touched on the importance of Russia and Europe working together, saying he thinks it would be "great" if the two could "move forward with a resolution of the current situation."
As for the football tournament and its host country Russia, Rørsted said he's "amazed at what the Russians have created and I expect we will have a fantastic World Cup."
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