Thursday, December 9, 2021

Reebok Apologizes For Insensitive Ireland Map UFC Shirt

Yesterday, John Kavanaugh, the coach of Conor McGregor, announced on Twitter that Reebok (who the UFC signed an exclusive apparel deal with this year) was now sponsoring his Straight Blast Gym, which is a huge deal for him:

Between the deal, UFC and Reebok heavily emphasizing nationalism in pushing the “Fight Kit” uniforms, McGregor’s popularity, and Ireland consequently being the UFC’s biggest hotbed right now, it made sense to release Ireland-themed shirts. However, Reebok erred badly with a new design, which has since been deleted:

there are two problems:

1. Instead of showing the entirety of Ireland (the island), Reebok only included The Republic of Ireland on the shirt, leaving out Northern Ireland. This is a contentious political issue to put it lightly.

2. Reebok had added a caption that asked fans to show their “territorial allegiance,” which almost made the move come off as intentional.

Kavanaugh quickly took to Twitter, threatening to pull out of the SBG/Reebok deal:

Reebok, realizing how big a can of worms they opened, pulled the shirt and apolofized within an hour and a half:

Between the UFC/Reebok deal resulting in decreased overall pay to the fighters, Reebok’s seeming lack of understanding of MMA, and a gaffe-filled rollout of their MMA products, they’ve made a bad impression on the sport’s fans. This is just the latest faux pas, but it’s a really ugly one.

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