SAO PAULO – Adidas will stop selling World Cup products that used sex appeal to promote host Brazil, a move that came after a formal complaint from the local government on Tuesday.
Adidas made the announcement just hours after Brazil's tourism board released a statement condemning some T-shirts that were being sold on the company's web site, including one which said "Lookin' to Score," with a woman in bikini in front of the word "Brazil" and an image of the Sugar Loaf mountain in the background.
Another said "I (heart) Brazil," with what appeared to be the image of a thong bikini inside the heart.
Adidas, a World Cup sponsor and supplier of the official ball for the tournament, said in a statement the products were limited edition T-shirts available only in the United States.
"Adidas always pays close attention to the opinion of its consumers and partners," the company said. "Therefore, it is announcing that these products will not be sold anymore."
The T-shirts were not available on the site on Tuesday shortly after Brazilian media published images of them.
The tourism board said the Brazilian government is "vehemently" against anything that "links Brazil's image to sex appeal," and said officials are working hard to repress "sexual tourism" during the World Cup.
"We want to make it very clear to our main commercial partners in tourism that Brazil does not tolerate this type of crime in its territory," said Flavio Dino, president of the tourism board Embratur.
Shortly after the board released its statement, President Dilma Rousseff tweeted Brazil is taking seriously the fight against sexual tourism.
"Brazil is happy to welcome the tourists that will arrive for the World Cup, but it is also ready to fight against sexual tourism," she said.
The World Cup, soccer's showcase event, is being held across 12 cities in Brazil from June 12-July 13. It is the first time since 1950 the South American nation is hosting the tournament.
"This campaign goes against what Brazil defends," Dino said of the Adidas T-shirts. "Our effort is to promote Brazil for its natural and cultural attributes. An initiative like this one ignores and disrespects the message the government is trying to get across."
Embratur said it wants to take advantage of the World Cup to showcase Brazil's "diverse culture, hospitality, modernity and natural beauties."
"None of our campaigns will ever use any image or message that uses sexual connotation or promotes this criminal action," the board said in its statement.
As part of a charities-led campaign announced earlier this month in London, videos warning soccer fans against paying for sex with children at the World Cup will be played on Brazil-bound flights from England.
Associated Press writer Marco Sibaja contributed to this report from Brasilia, Brazil.
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