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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 February, 2005, 10:26 GMT
Nike hits back at Neville claim
Sportswear manufacturer Nike has responded to claims by England defender Gary Neville that it is cheapening football's anti-racism campaigns.

Neville made his comments after England and Holland wore strips sporting anti-racism messages on Wednesday.

But Nike, which has a sponsorship deal with Neville's club Manchester United, hit back by issuing a statement.

It said: "It's not about cheap PR or profit but tackling the issue of racism that is still an issue in football."

Nike also said the idea of for the 'Stand Up, Speak Up' anti-racism campaign was from Thierry Henry and the company had worked with the Arsenal striker and other European players to make it work.
We have to make sure that the campaign is conducted in the right manner
Gary Neville

Nike UK's corporate communications manager, Simon Charlesworth, added: "The campaign isn't about publicity, it's about racism, and the fact remains that there is racism in football.

"We've spoken with all the relevant bodies such as Kick It Out, and we've had their approval.

"Even Gary Neville's team-mate, Rio Ferdinand, has come down to London to help with the campaign."

The sportswear giant has a 300m, 10-year sponsorship and merchandising deal with United.

But it did not prevent Neville from questioning its motives after England's goalless draw with Holland at Villa Park.
He said: "We don't have a big problem with racism in this country - you can think of probably one or two incidents in the last five or 10 years.

"We have to make sure that the campaign is conducted in the right manner and not done just for PR, like some of the sports companies seem to be doing at the moment.

"The FA and the England team have always campaigned against racism very well. We have just got to be aware that it is not cheapened slightly by companies like Nike getting a lot of PR out of it for nothing."

On Wednesday, England wore red shirts with an anti-racism slogan in silver on the front and the Kick It Out badge on the sleeves, while Holland had a black-and-white kit.

It was the first time in 133 years of international football that the England kit had carried anything on the front other than the three lions badge and manufacturer's logo.

Sports minister Richard Caborn later praised England and Holland for taking a stand against racism in football.

"It is great to see England and Holland uniting against racism," he said.

"But this should not be a one-off. We need to continue to work together to rid football completely of racism."

Nike helped launch Henry's high-profile, anti-racism campaign - along with United defender Rio Ferdinand - two weeks ago.

Neville was one of four players not to wear a training top with a Stand Up, Speak Up message at the match between Arsenal and United last week - and his comments have illustrated the reasons why he chose not to.




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