Rio de Janeiro - Under pressure from Brazil's tourism ministry, Adidas will withdraw a range of T-shirts that caused outrage at the ministry because of their sexual references.
Brazilian authorities were outraged over the T-shirts that Adidas put on sale in the US market to mark the upcoming Brazil 2014 Soccer World Cup. Brazilian officials complained, saying they would promote sex tourism.
"We will not allow the World Cup to be used for illegal practices such as the so-called sex tourism. We demand that Adidas stop marketing those products," Flabio Dino, president of the Brazilian Tourism Company (Embratur), was quoted as saying by the daily O Globo.
The controversial line of products launched by FIFA's official sponsor, which also manufactures the ball to be used during the tournament, shows among other things a young woman in a bikini with a Rio landscape behind her and the words, "Lookin' to Score" above the word "Brazil."
An even more controversial design shows the same picture of a girl with an "I (heart) Brazil" design that includes a triangular shape resembling a G-string. "This goes against the things that Brazil stands for," Dino said.
The German company, the world's second-largest sporting goods manufacturer, later announced it would withdraw the T-shirts. "We always listen carefully to our customers and other stakeholders, so having taken on board their feedback, we have made the decision to withdraw this product line," Adidas said in a statement emailed.
"It is important to stress that this was a limited edition range which was only available in the US." Dino noted that the country has "tough laws" against sexual abuse and that police will act against it in the World Cup too.
"Our efforts focus on promoting Brazil based on its natural and cultural assets. An initiative such as this ignores and disrespects the communication line that the government is adopting," the official said.
The shirts are being sold on the US website of the brand at prices ranging from 22 to 25 dollars.