Robin Stalker, the chief financial officer of Adidas, revealed the move on Thursday, Feb. 11, at the first British conference dedicated to improving the visibility of LGBT people in sport.
This clause reads: “Adidas acknowledges and adheres to the principles of diversity, as this is a central part of the Adidas group philosophy. Therefore Adidas warrants that this agreement will neither be terminated nor modified in case the athlete comes out to the public as a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.”
Although in Britain it is illegal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, this is not the case in dozens of countries in which Adidas sponsors athletes — including certain U.S. states. The prospect of losing sponsorship deals has also long been regarded as a key factor in keeping sportspeople in the closet.
Adidas, which is the largest manufacturer of sportswear in Europe, is a major sponsor of top-level athletes throughout the world, including hundreds of partnerships with individuals and teams across numerous sports such as football, rugby, and tennis. The German multibillion-pound company was also a sponsor of the conference in London, entitled “Team Pride: Levelling the LGBT Playing Field.”
Stalker made the announcement moments before hosting a panel discussion with three sportspeople who have all publicly disclosed their sexual orientation: rugby player Keegan Hirst, boxer Nicola Adams, and footballer Casey Stoney.