The boss of the Adidas group, shaken last year by his breakup with Kanye West, was forced to apologize after appearing to put the rapper's anti-Semitic statements into perspective. Björn Gulden, boss of the three-stripe brand, regretted what he described as an “erroneous statement” on his part. He expressed his regrets to the head of a major association fighting anti-Semitism (ADL, Anti-Defamation League). The latter, Jonathan Greenblatt, made them public Thursday evening in a message on social networks and the Adidas group confirmed this apology on Friday.
Björn Gulden drew criticism after a podcast called “In Good Company” last week, in which he said Kanye West, now known as Ye, didn't really mean his anti-Semitic statements made last year. Among other public slip-ups, Ye wrote in the fall of 2022 on Twitter (now renamed X) that he was going to attack Jews in a post since deleted by the site.
This controversy led the equipment manufacturer to abruptly end its lucrative collaboration with the rapper and his “Yeezy” sneaker collection. Adidas is “totally opposed to the abhorrent hatred expressed by Ye” last fall, Björn Gulden reiterated in his apology.
Arriving at the head of Adidas at the start of the year, the Norwegian inherited this file, which is poisonous for the group's reputation and its finances. The cessation of the marketing of Yeezy sneakers resulted in a shortfall of 1.2 billion euros. “Our decision to end our partnership with Ye due to his unacceptable comments and behavior was absolutely the right one,” an Adidas spokesperson said in a message sent to AFP on Friday. “Our position has not changed: hatred, whatever it may be, has no place in sport or in society, and we remain determined to fight it,” adds this source.
Adidas has started to divest some of the Yeezy inventory that it had taken off the shelves. The first wave in May generated around 400 million euros in sales, and the results of a second operation in August will be communicated later. Part of the revenue generated, i.e. 110 million euros, went to associations fighting against racism and anti-Semitism, including the ADL, as announced earlier by Adidas.