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Nike cuts ties with Pacquiao after homophobic comments

Sportswear giant Nike has curtailed its contract with superstar boxer Manny Pacquiao after he described gay people as “worse than animals.”

Nike’s decision was announced yesterday (Wednesday) evening just a day after an online petition had been launched, urging the company to drop the Filipino boxer, who has won world titles in eight different weight categories during a glittering 20-year career. “We find Manny Pacquiao's comments abhorrent,” a Nike spokesperson said.

Pacquiao, who was a Nike ambassador for more than eight years, told TV5 on Monday: “It's just common sense. Do you see any animals of the same sex mating? Animals are better off. They can distinguish between male and female. Now if men are mating with men and women with women, then they are worse than animals.”

The 37-year old congressman, who is expected to win a Senate seat at forthcoming elections in May as a conservative Christian, apologised for his comments in a video message on his Twitter account whilst wearing a Nike shirt.

“I'm sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I've hurt,” Pacquiao said. He added that he remained against same-sex marriage, which is not allowed in the Philippines.

He had earlier posted on social network Instagram that he was “just telling the truth of what the Bible says” and then posted on Facebook that he was “not condemning LGBT” before finally uploading his apology on Twitter. Pacquiao, who was beaten by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the most lucrative fight ever last year, is expected to retire after facing Timothy Bradley Jr on April 9.

Nike has terminated a number of endorsement deals in recent years, cutting ties with the likes of cyclist Lance Armstrong, American football star Ray Rice and sprinter Oscar Pistorius.