Nike ‘pulls Betsy Ross flag trainer after Kaepernick complaint’

By BBC News,

US sportswear giant Nike has pulled trainers emblazoned with an early version of the US flag after a complaint from former NFL star Colin Kaepernick, according to reports.

The Betsy Ross flag was used by the American Nazi Party as a symbol.

Mr Kaepernick sparked a furore by kneeling at American football games to protest against police violence against African-Americans.

He then fronted a major advertising campaign for Nike.

Nike withdrew the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July trainers, which were intended to celebrate US Independence Day, after Mr Kaepernick said the firm should not use a symbol he and others may find offensive, Bloomberg reported.

The Betsy Ross flag, with a circle of 13 stars, was created during the American Revolution and later adopted for use by the American Nazi party.

It is also used by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured the old version of the American flag,” a Nike spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.

The reports of Nike pulling the trainer led to some furious commentary on social media, with some complaining that Mr Kaepernick was “un-American”.

Doug Ducey, the Republican governor of Arizona, said on Twitter that he had ordered financial incentives for Nike to invest in a multi-million dollar factory in Goodyear City to be stopped.

Other Twitter users called for a boycott of Nike products over the move.

However, some Twitter users pointed out that the flag had been used by white nationalists.

In 2016, Mr Kaepernick, who was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, began kneeling for the US national anthem in protest at police violence against African-Americans.

Mr Kaepernick has not played in the National Football League (NFL) since the 2016 season, and sued the organisation, arguing team owners deliberately froze him out because of his activism, later settling with the NFL.

In 2018, Mr Kaepernick appeared in Nike’s “Just Do It” 30th anniversary campaign, which showed Mr Kaepernick with the slogan: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Betsy Ross was credited with sewing the first “Stars and Stripes” flag in 1776, although this version of events has been rejected by modern US scholars.