(RNS) Timed to the 2014 World Cup, Nike has produced an animated video that tells the story of an evil plot to drain all the life out of soccer with a team of dark-haired, prominent-nosed soccer robots. What’s unsettling to some is that the logo for this inhuman team resembles the Star of David, the symbol of Israel and the Jewish people.
In one shot, where the team’s symbol is seen on a jumbo stadium screen, the resemblance is particularly strong. On close inspection, the six-pointed star-like symbol on the players’ uniforms seems to be made up of six soccer balls (or footballs, as they’re known abroad) with rectangular caps.
Jewish groups have raised objections with Nike, as have members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. The Times of Israel reported that Knesset member Shimon Ohayon, chairman of a Knesset caucus to combat anti-Semitism, accused Nike of “using Jewish symbols in sports products to transmit anti-Semitic messages.”
Nike’s response: “The logo shown on ‘The Clones’ player uniforms and on the advertising boards in ‘The Last Game’ film is a logo of a football. Any resemblance to any other symbol or image within the campaign is entirely coincidental and unintentional.”
“We respect all religions and the image was in no way designed to cause any offense,” the statement continued.
Here is a sampling of what Tweeters are saying about the video:
— Dani Klein 🌍🍴 Yeah That's Kosher (@YeahThatsKosher) June 11, 2014
— Ben Rosenzweig (@BenRosenzweig) June 12, 2014
— Drew Dellinger (@drewdellinger) June 12, 2014
— Nokho Nyekha (@Native_Naga) June 11, 2014
— Rabbi Jason Miller (@RabbiJason) June 11, 2014
— Kyle Elliot (@KyleElliot) June 11, 2014