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ADIDAS IN THE CENTER OF BALL MANUFACTURING CONTROVERSY

          adidas-Salomon AG is "facing embarrassing claims that
     some of the soccer balls it made to commemorate the World
     Cup were sewn by political prisoners at a Chinese labor
     camp," according to Smith & Copetas of the WALL STREET
     JOURNAL.  The allegations are over whether balls were made
     by an adidas sub-contractor at a political labor camp and
     the dispute "leaves open the possibility that the
     promotional World Cup balls worked on" by Bao Ge, a former
     Chinese political prisoner -- who is suing Adidas --
     "weren't genuine Adidas products, or were unauthorized by
     the company.  That was a possibility the company raised when
     first contacted.  Subsequently, both Adidas and its
     suppliers suggested that the balls may have been authentic,
     but made in the labor camp without Adidas's knowledge." 
     Smith & Copetas report that although adidas "prides itself
     on its close monitoring of production, this case shows the
     danger of selling your name to companies manufacturing in a
     country as poorly regulated as China."  adidas CEO Robert
     Louis-Dreyfus: "If it turns out that even one item was made
     by slave labor or in a prison camp, heads will roll, maybe
     even my own" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/26). 
          COMING UP SHORT: In Oakland, Art Spander wrote that
     adidas focused much of its World Cup advertising spending in
     Europe tailored around "five of the world's best soccer
     players."  But the players "either haven't been picked to
     play for their countries or have been sent off the field for
     dirty tactics."  One adidas spokesperson: "We are not
     jinxed" (Art Spander, OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 6/24). 

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