Beliefs Culture

Are Nike’s evil soccer robots supposed to be Jewish?

Screen shot of Nike's soccer robots from it's new 2014 World Cup video. Some think the team logo looks too much like the Star of David.

(RNS) Timed to the 2014 World Cup, Nike has produced an animated video that tells the story of an evil plot to drain all the life out of soccer with a team of dark-haired, prominent-nosed soccer robots. What’s unsettling to some is that the logo for this inhuman team resembles the Star of David, the symbol of Israel and the Jewish people.

In one shot, where the team’s symbol is seen on a jumbo stadium screen, the resemblance is particularly strong. On close inspection, the six-pointed star-like symbol on the players’ uniforms seems to be made up of six soccer balls (or footballs, as they’re known abroad) with rectangular caps.

Jewish groups have raised objections with Nike, as have members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. The Times of Israel reported that Knesset member Shimon Ohayon, chairman of a Knesset caucus to combat anti-Semitism, accused Nike of  “using Jewish symbols in sports products to transmit anti-Semitic messages.”

Nike’s response: “The logo shown on ‘The Clones’ player uniforms and on the advertising boards in ‘The Last Game’ film is a logo of a football. Any resemblance to any other symbol or image within the campaign is entirely coincidental and unintentional.”

“We respect all religions and the image was in no way designed to cause any offense,” the statement continued.

Here is a sampling of what Tweeters are saying about the video:


About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)


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  • Nothing in an advertisement is accidental. Anti-semitism could make for big business in some territories, and in other territories they can just issue denials. Typical corporate irresponsibility.

  • I saw this ad and spotted the star of David right away
    on the black chests.

    I hated the Rio Christ statue and the returning Christ motifs.
    Clearly they are pushing buttons.

    this is the world religion builds.
    It wants divisions and hatreds so it can cash in.

    “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! ….and what constraint I am under until it is completed!
    Do you think I came to bring peace on Earth?
    No, I tell you, but division.” – Jesus (Luke 12:49-51)

    Jesus is disgusting.

  • It is a true ‘Greek Tragedy’ that NIKE would construct such anti-Semitic propaganda.

    The God ‘NIKE’ in greek mythology
    was the god of victory and fame and she retained her wings
    even as other Gods were said to be losing theirs.
    The word ‘Victory’ is related to the myth itself.

    The sad irony is that Judaism has Hellenistic (Greek) roots. That is where Judaism started – as an offshoot of Ancient Greek culture. Some Hellenistic tradition lives on in the Jewish Seder with its invitation to challenge elders with questions in pursuit of their wisdom.

    At some point Hellenism broke in two and the less intellectual, more infantile ideas of a precursor to Yahweh God won out while the intellectual, idyllic mythology died off.

    The idea of Nike beating the Jews is rich.

  • And just with whom did all this “religion” business begin in the culture that we know? Just who decided that monotheism was the only way?
    Yet, you, Max, never seem outraged when religious symbols of Christianity are defamed with great frequency.

  • I’m against ALL religion:
    Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism it is all immoral nonsense.

    But I’m against attacking the PEOPLE or the believers themselves.
    Racism and bigotry is unfair and as such, immoral.

    Attacking ‘the jews’ or ‘the christians’ is just ignorant, needless and cold-hearted.

    But religion itself is worthless BS.
    People are victims of religion. They are induced by indoctrination to not think about the internal contradictions and for that I have nothing but withering hatred.

  • They’re clones, not robots. But the anti-Semitism is clear immediately. True, after a minute or two I could see that the clone logo is not a Star of David; the prominent noses and ominously black shirts, especially highlighted in the advertising posters, remain.

    I think GG Pan has a good point. I’ve never been a Nike fan (the brand, not the Greek concept!) and this only strengthens that.

  • So, under your reasoning, one could be an anti-semite, so long as he hates Jewishness and not individual Jews.
    See the flaw in your thinking?

  • @bendertonj,

    ALL Humans evolved from one group in Africa.
    We are all the same race and the same species.

    What is ‘Jewishness’ without religion?
    What is there to hate? I don’t get it.
    If people want to hate a cartoon in their head called ‘jewishness’ that is just dumb.

    Believers are dictated by their God to do despicable immoral things:

    Jews are told BY THEIR RELIGION they were given the Holy Land so they see the Palestinians as thieves who took their land which God gave them. This is divisive, hateful nonsense but it is not the JEW’s fault – it is the religion – and it is the job of the Jewish person to question the authority that told them this ridiculous claim.

    Muslims are told BY THEIR RELIGION they must eradicate the infidels from the Holy land and all non Muslims are by definition INFIDELS. It is not the MUSLIM’S fault that he was indoctrinated in this nonsense – but the RELIGION that rejects rational inquiry into these claims.

    Religion is divisive garbage.

    I hate cancer. Not cancer patients.
    Religion is a disease. Unlike some cancers, It is treatable.

    David Silverman, president of American Atheists was raised Jewish but he is now an Atheist. He does not refer to himself as Jewish in any sense of the word – he does not believe in any gods.
    He is fully cured.

    George Carlin was raised Catholic. He did not believe in any God and spent his adult life as an Atheist.
    He was fully cured.

    Salman Rushdie was raised Muslim, he has no belief in God so he is cured.

    Get it? Religion is completely curable.

    If you have the affliction, you need to question your belief and eliminate it. Religious people who do NOT examine their religion and who instead act out their beliefs will commit atrocities like suicide bombings, genital mutilations and other things.

    HUMANS are all the same race and the same species.

    Religion tells us lies about this.
    Religion is ignorance.
    Religion needlessly divides us.

    It is far past the time to abandon the ignorant foolishness of religion.

  • Lin, “Big noses” and I would NEVER have made that association, how interesting!
    So, you’re anti-Greek and that okay!!!

  • “What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”
    – John Lubbock

    I think the claim that this ad is anti-Semitic (even unintentionally) is a stretch of the imagination. It was only after it was pointed out by others that the symbol of the footballs ‘might’ resemble the star of David did my mind even consider the possibility. Before that it was just a cartoon.

    It seems inconceivable that a company of the size, makeup and global influence of Nike would have deliberately solicited the production of something which associates their brand with vilification of an ethnicity or religion. That makes absolutely no corporate sense at all.

    The ad agency involved is Wieden Kennedy. Dan Wieden has co-chaired events by the American Jewish Committee and his ad company has at least two other Jewish Americans amongst its staff. The studio where it was made is Passion Pictures whose co-founder Andrew Ruhemann has Jewish heritage.

    Nor, according to The Times of Israel, does the Anti-Defamation League consider the ad anti-Semitic saying,

    “You really have to use your imagination to believe there was ill intent here….Imputing hateful or anti-Semitic intent only undermines our ability to combat and confront actual anti-Semitism”

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