The league stepped up its pressure on Adidas this week, after members of a hate group hung a banner reading “Kanye is right about the Jews” over a Los Angeles freeway.
In Germany, the Central Council of Jews called on the Bavarian-based sportswear giant to cut its ties to Ye. “The historical responsibility of Adidas lays not only in the German roots of the company, but also in its entanglement with the Nazi regime,” Josef Schuster, the head of the council, said. “I simply expect such a company to take a strict position regarding antisemitism.”
The founder of Adidas, Adi Dassler, belonged to the Nazi Party, and his factory was forced to produce munitions in the final years of the war. It was only thanks to the sworn statement of a Jewish friend that he was allowed to found the present-day company after World War II ended. Antisemitic statements made online can lead to prosecution in Germany and companies with ties to the Nazi era are expected to act to prevent the return of such sentiment.
As pressure on the company mounted in the United States in recent days, its leadership remained largely silent, frustrating even its own executives. “Coming off of the Adidas global week of inclusion, I am feeling anything but included,” Sarah Camhi, a director for trade marketing at Adidas in the United States, wrote in a post on LinkedIn on Monday.
She pointed out that while Adidas had severed ties with athletes who failed drug tests, or were “difficult to work with,” it was “unwilling to denounce hate speech, the perpetuation of dangerous stereotypes and blatant racism by one of our top brand partners,” she wrote.
“As a member of the Jewish community, I can no longer stay silent on behalf of the brand that employs me,” Ms. Camhi wrote. “Not saying anything, is saying everything.”
Shares of Adidas traded down more than 7 percent — their lowest point since 2016 — after the announcement on Tuesday. The company’s stock has fallen over 20 percent in the past month, as Ye embarked on his latest bout of outrageous behavior.