Nike, stop sponsoring Turkish football

Demand that Nike ends its sponsorship deal with the Turkish national football team

Nike is a multinational footwear and sportswear manufacturer headquartered in the USA. As the world’s biggest supplier of athletic shoes and clothing Nike sponsors many major sports teams, leagues and athletes. Amongst those sponsorships Nike sponsors several Turkish sports teams and athletes, including the Turkish national football team who have been criticised for their “military salute” in support of the illegal Turkish invasion of Northeast Syria.

By ignoring the cultural boycott of Turkey and sponsoring teams that have helped promote war crimes, Nike is complicit in attempts to cover up the crimes of the Turkish states.

With stores all over the UK and thousands of Nike products sold in other shops daily, Nike has a major presence in Britain; making it a perfect target for protests and a consumer boycott.

Nike also owns major clothing brands like Converse All-Star shoes and Hurley International. Nike’s strong public presence and connection to many famous athletes makes targeting them a good way to raise awareness of the cultural boycott of Turkey and the situation in Rojava more generally.

Spoiling Nike’s carefully crafted brand image

What’s more Nike’s publicity in recent years has attempted to paint the brand as a progressive company which supports social justice, as seen in their sponsorship of NFL player Colin Kaepernick after his protests against US police brutality. This image is betrayed by the company’s complicity in whitewashing the image of repressive regimes such as the Turkish state. This hypocrisy means that Nike is even more vulnerable to boycotts and protests highlighting the massive gulf between the company’s claims to ‘Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything’ and the reality of supporting Turkey despite Erdogan’s war crimes.

Sweatshop labour

Nike has also been accused of using child labour, abusive sweatshop working conditions and underpaying factory staff. This means their brand is vulnerable to negative publicity. Protests, social media campaigns and boycotts against Nike will therefore be an important part of the Boycott Turkey campaign.

Nike and Turkish Sports

Nike has strong ties with the world of Turkish sports, sponsoring many teams and athletes who have given their support to Erdoğan’s regime and the invasion of Rojava.

Chief amongst these is the sponsorship of the Turkish national football team. In a match against Albania on the 12th of October 2019 the team celebrated a goal with a ‘military salute’ in support of the invasion carried out by the Turkish military and its Jihadist proxies. After the match the Turkish FA tweeted a further photo of the team saluting the invasion dedicating their victory in the match to “our brave soldiers and fellow martyrs.”

Despite warnings from UEFA, this salute was repeated on the 14th of October during a match against France. By sponsoring the Turkish national team then, Nike is complicit in their support for the invasion of Rojava. Since Nike also manufactures the strip they are also directly profiting from this militaristic propaganda.

More Turkish sponsorship deals

Nike also sponsor several other sports teams in Turkey including basketball teams such as Anadolu Efes and Fenerbahçe Beko. Similarly, Nike sponsor major Turkish football teams Akhisar Belediyespor, Antalyaspor, Çaykur Rizespor, Galatasaray S.K., and Kasımpaşa S.K. – whose stadium is named after Erdoğan himself.

Sponsoring Erdoğan’s mates

Nike has also sponsored Arda Turan, a Turkish football player who has been a long-time supporter of President Erdoğan. Erdoğan even acted as a witness for Turan’s 2018 marriage.

Even more controversially Nike have also sponsored the Northern Cyprus Football team who represent the territory in Cyprus which Turkey invaded and occupied in 1983. This is in spite of a sports embargo on Northern Cyprus. Nike’s links to Turkish sport then represent complicity in the whitewashing of the Turkish state’s crimes and mark Nike out as an important target for boycotts. Until Nike respects the cultural boycott of Turkey they will continue to profit from the repressive actions of Erdogan’s regime.

Nike in Turkey

Nike are not just linked to Turkish sports by sponsorship deals but also have a major presence in the country too. As of 2017 the company had over 105 stores in Turkey. Nike also has 5 factories in Northwest Turkey, meaning it has a significant role in the Turkish economy.

This economic role means that Nike is helping to prop up President Erdoğan’s regime.

In March 2019 as part of an electoral rally Erdoğan announced that Nike would be opening a new factory in the province of Ağrı. He claimed the factory would employ over 5,000 people. This shows just how important Nike’s participation in the Turkish economy is as a propaganda tool for the regime.

Take action

  • Demand that Nike ends it sponsorship of the Turkish national team, and the other sponsorship deals that make it complicit in whitewashing Turkish war crimes.
  • Demonstrating outside of Nike can be a useful tactic in the movement to boycott Turkey and promote a cultural boycott. The general public is often unaware of the links between Nike and Turkey, so leafleting and talking to people outside of shops can be helpful in spreading information.
  • Publicly calling on sports stars, clubs and leagues sponsored by Nike to join the boycott and respect the boycott more generally can be a great way of increasing both publicity and pressure on Nike. This will be even more effective if you are part of fan clubs or associations who may be able to put collective pressure on clubs. This will be especially effective for football clubs traditionally associated with progressive politics such as Liverpool FC (who are sponsored by Nike).
  • Similarly, publicly criticising Nike and committing to the consumer boycott of Nike products will help raise awareness of the boycott and put pressure on Nike. This will help spread the message that Nike needs to respect the cultural boycott of Turkey and stop supporting the Turkish economy.