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Reebok’s latest blunder is simply unacceptable

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When I saw it, I knew it was bad. Take away all the complex geo-political issues that Ireland already has, and it still just looks bad.

For those who don’t know, Reebok, the official apparel sponsor of the UFC, briefly released a shirt this week in a thinly veiled cash grab an attempt to rally fans around this weekend’s Dublin card. The shirt was OK enough, simply the outline of the country of Ireland along with the UFC logo and “Ireland” printed in some vaguely Celtic font.

Only it wasn’t Ireland on the shirt. It completely omitted some 5,000 square miles of land known to many as “Northern” Ireland.

To put it mildly, Ireland and the North have experienced an adversarial relationship for the better part of the last century. In layman’s terms, the argument mainly settles on issues of religion and territorialism; some believe Northern Ireland to be a part of Ireland as a whole, while others maintain it belongs to the United Kingdom.

Though seemingly innocuous, “The Troubles” (as their known colloquially) over the past years between the North and South have caused an unknown amount of heartache and violence for those living in Ireland. Tensions seem to have eased recently, but memories of car bombings and shootings in the streets are hard to forget for those who remember.

But did Reebok care to do just the slightest bit of background research on this topic? Of course not. And given Reebok’s short history with the world of mixed martial arts, I’m not sure if we can really be all that surprised.

Look no further than the initial product rollout Reebok organized with the UFC. From blatantly misspelling fighter’s names, to completely omitting others, Reebok has already established a track record for inconsistency, and flagrant disregard for athletes and fans alike.

The shirt was promptly removed from Reebok’s website, but the damage was already done. A weak Twitter apology from Reebok’s UK office came out quickly enough, but it was clear to see that the impetus for the apology was directly related to the ire of fans; had no one said anything, Reebok would have gladly collected the revenue from the shirt’s sales.

Interim champ Conor McGregor’s head trainer John Kavanagh recently announced a partnership with Reebok as well, which was likely part of their motivation to print the shirt in such a hurry; it was a clear case of trying to strike while the iron is hot.

But for a multi-million dollar conglomerate the size of Reebok, blunders like this are simply unacceptable. They can blame it on ignorance all they want, but this is inexcusable.

Beyond the insensitivity of the shirt’s message, it’s just a poor design. They literally copy and pasted the geographical outline of Ireland and slapped some logos on it; laziness in design is an understatement. Whoever is in charge of Reebok’s UFC division is clearly not doing their job, otherwise they would have known the scrutiny MMA fans are capable of.

It’s a shame because fighting is one of the few things that can unite human beings regardless of race, ethnicity, skin color, religion, cultural background, and, most importantly, nationality. Combat is innate in all human beings, and we should use the opportunity MMA affords us to break down the walls of previous decade’s stupidity.

To create something so ignorant, and so passively divisive is beyond careless for Reebok. They deserve every bit of bad press and negative attention this snafu has brought them; they’ve truly earned all of it. The scary part is waiting until they do it again.

This article comes to us by way of Sam Mendoza – shoot him a follow on Twitter @samyboi911

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