Nike’s distributor in Brazil, which has rights to sell the official national team jerseys for the FIFA World Cup, is no longer allowing customers to order personalized jerseys with “Jesus,” “Christ,” or other Christian terms following complaints from African paganists this week.
The FIFA World Cup begins on Sunday and is one of the planet’s most prestigious sporting events. It is particularly popular in Brazil, the winningest country in the history of the tournament with five championships.
Fisia, the company serving as Nike’s distributor in the country, reportedly added “Jesus” – a common male name in Latin America – and “Christ” to its list of prohibited personalization terms on Wednesday after the country’s Federal Public Ministry (MPF), its attorney general’s office, intervened out of concern for religious discrimination. Adherents to the Nigerian Lucumí Yoruba faith – known in the Spanish-speaking world as santeríabut commonly referred to in Brazil as Candomblé – complained to the government that the Nike website did not allow them to personalize World Cup jerseys with the names of their gods.
According to the BBC, prior to the online outrage from the African religious community in the country, names of deities (orixás) such as Xangô or Exu were not available for personalization, but “Jesus” and “Cristo” were. As one user on Twitter noted, on Tuesday, personalizing a shirt with the term “Amen, Jesus” was possible, but doing so with the Yoruba exaltation “Laroyê Exu” was not.
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