Sportswear giant Nike has dropped Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao from its roster of endorsers after referring to homosexuals as “worse than animals.”
The 37-year old eight-time world champion, who’s also running as senator in the Philippines, made this controversial remark when he was asked about his stand on same-sex marriage. Pacquiao is currently a congressman in the province of Sarangani in Mindanao region.
"We find Manny Pacquiao's comments abhorrent," said a Nike statement, according to a report by BBC. "Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community." The company also said that it no longer has a relationship with Pacquiao.
Nike is known to be a staunch supporter of the LGBT community. It has a #BeTrue merchandise line released annually to celebrate Pride Month. Last year’s line included a basketball shoe, according to a report by Outsports. Other sports apparel companies Adidas and Converse have followed suit and introduced LGBT-friendly designs. Last week, Adidas also announced that they won’t change or terminate the contract of their endorsers if they reveal that they come out as LGBT.
Pacquiao, who suffered a defeat from Floyd Mayweather in May 2015, earned the ire of the LGBT community, athletes and various personalities worldwide with his statement.
Further to his notorious opinion on same-sex relationships, Pacquiao also took to Instagram to defend his statement. “I’m not condemning anyone, but I’m just telling the truth of what the Bible says,” he wrote. However, after receiving a global backlash, Pacquiao issued a video apology and posted it on Instagram and Facebook.
“I'm sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals,” the embattled boxer said. “Please forgive me for those I've hurt. I still stand on my belief that I'm against same sex marriage because of what the Bible says, but I'm not condemning LGBT. I love you all with the love of the Lord. God Bless you all and I'm praying for you.”
Pacquiao is scheduled to fight American boxer Timothy Bradley Jr in Las Vegas in April this year.