An Israeli MK accused Nike of anti-Semitism on Wednesday over what he claimed was “insidious” anti-Jewish imagery in an advertisement released Monday ahead of soccer’s quadrennial championship.
The long internet ad, broadcast in advance of the kickoff of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this week, features animated international soccer stars competing against clones who have taken over the sport and sapped the game of its fun.
The diabolical automatons don a logo designed to appear like a soccer ball with white spots on a black background, which MK Shimon Ohayon (Yisrael Beytenu) charged is intentionally similar to a Star of David.
Ohayon, chairman of a Knesset caucus for the struggle against anti-Semitism, said in a statement that “the new anti-Semitic propaganda is insidious and conveys anti-Semitic messages in an subtle fashion, an example of which is the Nike Corporation.” Ohayon accused Nike of “using Jewish symbols in sports products to transmit anti-Semitic messages.”
Yaakov Haguel, head of the Jerusalem-based World Zionist Organization’s division for combating anti-Semitism, also received dozens of complaints about the video and contacted Nike.
According to the Maariv daily, he told the multinational corporation that those who complained to WZO from around the world discerned a “double message behind the symbols in the video clip.”
Haguel told Nike that WZO’s anti-anti-Semitism unit takes such complaints very seriously and would be happy to work with Nike to understand the video’s message and solve the problem.
Nike said in response to the MK’s remarks: “The logo shown on ‘The Clones’ player uniforms and on the advertising boards in ‘The Last Game’ film is a logo of a football. Any resemblance to any other symbol or image within the campaign is entirely coincidental and unintentional.”
“We respect all religions and the image was in no way designed to cause any offense,” Nike said.