Premier League soccer powerhouse Arsenal and athletic gear giant Adidas were forced to put the kibosh on their #DareToCreate social media campaign due to—what else?—a few bad apples on Twitter.
The #DareToCreate campaign was developed to back the release of the football club’s new home kits, which are made by Adidas.
People on Twitter who liked a since-deleted tweet from @adidasUK saw their Twitter handles appear on the part of the jersey where players’ names are displayed, and those jersey images were tweeted out by @adidasUK, along with the message, “This is home. Welcome to the squad.”
Unfortunately, images were created and widely circulated of Arsenal jerseys bearing Twitter handles that were racist or anti-Semitic, and that poked fun at the Hillsborough disaster (in which 96 people died at a soccer match in England in April 1989) and missing child Madeleine McCann (who disappeared from a resort in Portugal in 2007 at age 3 and was never found).
Those tweets have since been deleted, but they were captured by Twitter users including Andrew Bloch, founder and managing partner of boutique agency Frank, and journalist Walker Bragman.
A Twitter spokesperson said in a statement, “We regret that this functionality has been abused in this way, and we are taking steps to ensure that we protect the health of the interactions with this account. We have already taken action on a number of accounts for violating our policies and will continue to take strong enforcement action against any content that breaks our rules.”
An Adidas spokesperson said in a statement, “As part of our partnership launch with Arsenal, we have been made aware of the abuse of a Twitter personalization mechanic created to allow excited fans to get their name on the back of the new jersey. Due to a small minority creating offensive versions of this, we have immediately turned off the functionality. We are in contact with Twitter, the innovation provider, who are continuing to monitor and action violating content.”
Arsenal had not responded to a request for comment at the time of this post, but the football club shared this statement with The Guardian: “We totally condemn the use of language of this nature, which has no place in our game or society. We work hard as a club to encourage diversity and inclusion through our Arsenal for Everyone program, launched in 2008 as a celebration of the diversity of the Arsenal family. Through a number of initiatives undertaken in the community, inside Emirates Stadium and throughout the club, Arsenal strives to ensure that everyone associated with the club feels an equal sense of belonging.”