Garcia has come under fire after he made a “Fried Chicken” joke about rival Woods ahead of the US Open. The joke was made after Garcia was asked at a Gala event earlier this week (21 May) whether he would invite Woods over for dinner during the event to settle their long-running feud.
He jokingly told delegates that he “will have [Woods]] round every night”, before adding “we will serve fried chicken.”
The remarks have triggered outrage throughout the sport with Woods branding them “hurtful” and “clearly inappropriate” yesterday (22 May) on Twitter. Garcia has issued a televised apology and will face no further action from golf organisers.
TaylorMade-Adidas, which supplies Garcia’s equipment, has moved to distance themselves from the athlete by revealing they are currently reviewing their multi-million deal.
In a statement the company said: “Sergio Garcia’s recent comment was offensive and in no way aligns with TaylorMade-Adidas Golf’s values and corporate culture. We have spoken with Sergio directly and he clearly has regret for his statement and we believe he is sincere. We discussed with Sergio that his comments are clearly out of bounds and we are continuing to review the matter.
The incident brings back memories of a similar remark made by Fuzzy Zoeller about Woods after he won the 1997 Masters (see below). Zoeller lost sponsorship deals in the wake of the comments.
He said: “You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year. Got it? Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.”
It is not the first time one of Adidas’ brand ambassadors has been accused of making racist comments. In 2011, Liverpool FC footballer Luis Suarez was found guilty of making racist comments to Manchester United’s Patrice Evra during a match.