Nike launches anti-racism effort

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[London] Nike's top European soccer stars are speaking out against racism through an ad campaign urging the silent majority of non-racist fans to "stand up, speak up" against racist abuse.

The TV and print campaign is led by one of Nike's top athletes, Thierry Henry, who plays for British team Arsenal and on France's national team. Mr. Henry was referred to as a "black shit" by the coach of Spain's national team during a training session last October, highlighting the problem of racism in soccer.

Nike's campaign, created by Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam, is running across Europe. In the TV spots, players hold up hand-written signs bearing the message, "To drown out the racists we need your voices in football and everywhere." Nike has also produced black-and-white wristbands, sold for $3 each to raise money for anti-racism charities. The bands sold out immediately across Europe, and are now going for up to $40 on eBay.

The campaign sparked controversy when Gary Neville, a top U.K. soccer player not under contract to Nike, accused the marketer of cheapening the anti-racism cause through merchandising and self-publicity.

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