Adidas found itself doing damage control after its CEO downplayed Kanye West’s antisemitism on a podcast. The company insisted it made the right call to cut ties with Ye and confirmed CEO Bjorn Gulden spoke with the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday (September 21).
“Our decision to end our partnership with Ye because of his unacceptable comments and behavior was absolutely the right one,” Adidas told the Associated Press. “Our stance has not changed: Hate of any kind has no place in sports or society, and we remain committed to fighting it.”
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said he spoke with Gulden in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter). Greenblatt described Gulden’s defense of Kanye as a “misstatement.”
“Good to speak with @Adidas CEO Bjorn Gulden this morning,” Greenblatt wrote. “Bjorn apologized for his misstatement & reiterated that Adidas is committed to fighting #antisemitism & is completely opposed to the ugly hate expressed by @kanyewest. Glad Adidas, @ADL & @FCASorg are working together to #FightHateForGood.”
Gulden defended Kanye on an episode of the In Good Company podcast. The Adidas CEO claimed he didn’t think Kanye “meant what he said” in regard to the controversial rapper’s antisemitic rants.
“I don’t think he’s a bad person,” Gulden said. “It just came across that way.”
Adidas ended its partnership with Kanye in 2022. The company said his comments violated its “values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”