Adidas withdraws Soviet-themed shirt in Lithuania

May 9, 2018

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Lithuania has welcomed a decision by sports gear company Adidas to remove a tank top with the letters USSR and emblems of the Soviet Union from its online store in the country, after the shirt provoked anger from many in the former Soviet republic.

The Foreign Ministry tweeted Tuesday that the move was “respect for millions of victims of Soviet totalitarian regime (and) is an issue of human decency.”

Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1990, and today Soviet symbols are likened to Nazi ones and are banned. Officials there earlier said the shirt was “sick with ‘imperial nostalgia.’”

Many Lithuanians demanded online that the women’s red shirt, emblazoned with the letters USSR and a badge with the hammer and sickle symbol, be removed, and threatened to boycott Adidas.

Media in Lithuania reported that similar protests have also taken place in Ukraine.

On social media, the German brand was mocked by people suggesting Adidas start selling Nazi uniforms.

A similar men’s jersey — described as a “replica of the USSR team’s last official jersey” — is sold on Adidas’ U.K. website, which said the shirt is part of a range of products launched ahead of the soccer World Cup in Russia.

It says the range sees “Adidas transform archival soccer jerseys into fashion-forward statement pieces,” and that it “brings back iconic kits worn by the biggest teams of the ’90s.”

There was no immediate reaction from the Herzogenaurach, Germany-based company.