Reebok probably wishes it could have a do-over after the unveiling of its UFC Ireland T-shirt sparked nearly universal backlash.
The “Ireland Map Tee” was unveiled ahead of the UFC’s Fight Night show at the 3Arena in Dublin on Saturday. However, only the Republic of Ireland was featured on the shirt, as Reebok neglected to include Northern Ireland. The shirt was accompanied by the following caption: “Show your territorial allegiance with this UFC Ireland map tee. You know in your soul the best fighters come out of Ireland, and you’re not afraid to scream your pride in the gym or at the Octagon.”
The Republic of Ireland’s capital is Dublin and occupies about five-sixths of the island of Ireland. It shares a border with Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. When referring to “Ireland” one is generally including both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is where Reebok made its gaffe.
While there was plenty of outrage regarding the shirt, one of the most prominent detractors was Conor McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, who heads the SBG Ireland team and just recently inked a sponsorship deal with Reebok.
“An incredibly insensitive stupid divisive idea,” Kavanagh wrote on Twitter. “It’s removed by the end of the day or SBG is gone. I expect a sincere apology to Irish fans.”
Shortly thereafter, Reebok apologized for what it called a “design error.” The shirt has since been pulled from the company’s online store.
We sincerely apologise for the offence caused by the UFC Ireland t-shirt. This was a design error and has now been removed.— Reebok UK (@ReebokUK) October 21, 2015
Kavanagh later posted a lengthier statement on the matter: