Adidas: The Brand with the two sides

Adidas: The Brand with the two sides

The BBC have reported that sports manufacturer Adidas are to end their commercial agreement with the world governing body of athletics, the IAAF. It appears that the recent doping scandals, highlighted best by the allegations of Russian state sponsored cheating, has brought them to the decision. It seems strange they have found moral ground after refusing to condemn FIFA and Sepp Blatter amidst corruption charges.

In big business making public displays like this from large corporations is more about image than moral fibre. People sat in an Adidas boardroom will have decreed that being associated with drug cheats is detrimental to the sporting brand.

This sounds fair enough. When a company is paying in excess of $8m a year, they deserve to be linked with an honest product. There’s no doubt the doping claims and lack of trust surrounding athletics is a turnoff for spectators and commercial partners.

But the IAAF have been more than willing to root out the wrongdoers and have welcomed – albeit with red faces – the findings from World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). They reported that corruption was rife within athletics but their condemnation was aimed at former IAAF President Lamine Diack.

However, the report, presented by respected former president of WADA, Dick Pound, concluded with the statement: “There’s an enormous amount of reputational recovery that needs to occur here and I can’t think of anyone better than Lord Coe to lead that.”

Lord Coe

So we have a large sporting institute in turmoil that has taken steps to correct itself by inviting independent bodies to air their secrets in public. Furthermore, they have installed a new president, in the guise of Lord Coe, who has universal backing and is beyond reproach.

But Adidas want to jump ship.

This is the same Adidas that refused to criticise Sepp Blatter when he was coming under increasing scrutiny towards the end of his FIFA reign. The same Adidas that has been the longest serving sponsor of football’s governing body but didn’t flinch when FBI investigators started to detail a web of corruption far more widespread and complex than the one affecting the IAAF.

The same Adidas that seems to have put money before morals.

Leaving the IAAF now isn’t making a statement against drug cheats in sport; it’s taking money away from an organisation trying its best to fight corruption.

The IAAF want to clean up athletics and isn’t running for cover or acting self-servingly like Blatter and Platini did. They shouldn’t be punished for the actions of some within the sports they represent. If a footballer takes drugs he is accountable for his actions, the authorities he plays under should punish him. Adidas should punish the athletes and nations that sought to gain an advantage, not an IAAF trying to reform.

To put it into context, Coca-Cola, Visa, McDonald’s and Budweiser all made statements in October 2015 stating that Blatter’s continued presence at FIFA was holding back reform. However, at the same time Adidas stood by the now disgraced president.

There’s too much to be gained financially by staying in bed with FIFA.

Adidas weren’t interested in making an ethical choice when the FIFA scandal came to light, don’t be fooled into thinking they care about sporting interests now. To this day, FIFA are still resistant to impartial third parties assisting in reshaping the organisation to help wipe-out corruption. There’s no WADA-type invite being issued by them.

The IAAF will survive and under Lord Coe will overcome the many difficulties facing athletics. When they do triumph they’ll be better off without hypocrites like Adidas in their party.

Seriously Occupied

Seriously Occupied

Before I begin, I should point out how I’ve never read a Harry Potter book or seen any of the movie adaptations. To me J.K. Rowling was identifiable for creating a cultural phenomenon that’d I’d deliberately swerved. I’ve just never been drawn to wizards and dragons. Not that I haven’t ever read fantasy novels, but the idea of getting on the Potter bandwagon never appealed. The dismay people gave me was always followed up with: “Read them. You’ll enjoy them. She’s a good writer.” It was the final part of that endorsement which made me pick up The Casual Vacancy.

Upon its release it received a mixed reception, as one would expect from a children’s author dipping their toe into the world of adult novels. The endorsement from Stephen King – my favourite author of all time – made me take notice. He had always preached the power of great story telling. Surely children’s books are the purest form of this. So I approached the tale regarding the fictional town of Pagford with the idea it’d be a simple yarn. Pure storytelling. It was much more than this.

To cut to the chase – in my opinion – it represents a turn as a literary piece. The best evidence of this is how the snobbish literary reviewers tried to pan it. There’s nothing more they hate than a commercial author stepping on their toes. Had the authors name been the always excellent Julian Barnes we’d have seen a different response. Other negative comments could stem from the dark themes that casual fans hadn’t been prepared for.

One review I saw lambasted Rowling for using the word “cunt.” The implication being, she used it to enforce an adult view, that it wasn’t her natural mode. I’d argue that a novel focusing on addiction, rape, and neglect quite easily can use the word as a matter of course. As for the grimy nature, that’s life. She wasn’t giving us a Disney version of the world.

Her master stroke is how she makes each person’s individual struggle relevant whilst keeping everything graded correctly in the larger context. Samantha Mollison’s bland life, passionless marriage, could easily seem trivial compared to the struggles of Krystal Weedon, but we can see the personal loss in both. Admittedly, the story of Krystal is the one that will move you most.

This weekend the BBC starts their three-part version of show, which was produced in partnership with HBO. Early reports indicate they have given it a lighter ending. This aside, I’m hopeful they do the novel justice. They have a strong cast including Michael Gambon, Keeley Hawes and Rory Kinnear. It will be a tall order to condense the thirty-plus characters from the book into a television show and maintain the feel of depth across them all.

Casual Vacancy

The book may have been underappreciated and this new show may not be one for the mass audience. But the rewards will be rich if it meets the standards of the novel. For those that fail to connect: there’s always the Harry Potter movies.

(Main photo: Chloë Walker, Flickr.)