Adidas executives reportedly raised concerns about the relationship with Kanye West years ago

The Adidas CEO and other senior leaders at the company reportedly discussed four years ago concerns about continuing a relationship with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, which they feared could explode at any moment.

During a 2018 presentation to members of the company’s executive board, a group of employees that included CEO Kasper Rorsted outlined the risks employees took by interacting with Ye, according to the Wall Street Journal. The presentation featured mitigating strategies for Adidas’ relationship with Ye, including severing ties with Yeezy’s creator.

But rather than sever ties with Ye, the top executives had the business unit leaders share several proposals with the rapper, so that Adidas could keep the Yeezy partnership, which accounts for an estimated 8% of annual sales.

Yeezy and Adidas executives participated in a meeting in September in which he asked for more money and control of the Yeezy brand. Ye also allegedly showed executives a clip from an adult video and accused them of plagiarizing his designs.

Adidas ends its partnership with Kanye West over anti-Semitic comments

The Adidas CEO and other senior leaders in the company four years ago discussed concerns about continuing a relationship with Ye, officially Kanye West, that they feared could explode at any moment. (Reuters/Andrew Kelly/File Photo/Steve Eichner/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images)

The company agreed to some of Ye’s demands after that meeting, including the ability to sell Yeezy shoes directly to consumers, ownership of future designs and assurances that he would receive a portion of sales from Yeezy look-alike products. The offer will extend the partnership between the two sides until at least 2026. However, Yi was not satisfied, seeking as much as $3 billion.

And in October, Adidas ended its relationship with Ye in response to several anti-Semitic comments made by the rapper.

Adidas said in a statement that it does not tolerate anti-Semitism or any other form of hate speech.

Yi West wears black

During a 2018 presentation to members of the company’s executive board, a group of employees that included CEO Kasper Rorsted identified the risks employees faced by interacting with Ye. (Edouard Berthelot/GC Images/Getty Images)

“Ye’s recent comments and actions are unacceptable, hateful, and dangerous, and violate the company’s values โ€‹โ€‹of diversity, inclusion, mutual respect, and fairness,” the statement read.

Earlier this month, Adidas announced the launch of an investigation into Ye’s behavior after the company received an anonymous letter alleging that he had committed years of misconduct towards Adidas employees and that his behavior had been ignored by company management.

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Adidas ended its relationship with Ye in response to several anti-Semitic comments West had made on Twitter. (Reuters/Andrew Kelly/File Photo/Reuters Photo)

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The alleged behavior and the company’s attempts to retain Yeezy even though it was not new, according to former and current Adidas and Yeezy employees. Some employees said they had raised concerns about Yi’s behavior to senior Adidas leaders and human resource managers since 2018.

“It is not currently clear whether the accusations in the anonymous letter are true,” Adidas said in a statement on Thursday. “However, we take these allegations very seriously and have taken the decision to immediately launch an independent investigation into the matter to address the allegations.”

The Wall Street Journal contributed to this report.

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