Nike stands by sponsorship of Tiger Woods despite 'indiscretions'
Chairman of sportswear company gives unequivocal backing and describes golfer's troubles as 'a minor blip'
His marriage may be in deep trouble but Tiger Woods's main sponsor – Nike – is standing by its man.
Phil Knight, the chairman and co-founder of the sportswear company, has given his unequivocal backing to Woods at a time when other sponsors are distancing themselves from the world's top golfer. Knight said: "When his career is over, you'll look back on these indiscretions as a minor blip."
Speaking to the Sports Business Journal, Knight brushed off the scandal engulfing Woods as "part of the game" of sponsorship deals.
Woods has announced he is taking an "indefinite" break from golf after admitting infidelity. The admission prompted the financial services company Accenture to sever links with Woods. Proctor & Gamble and Gillette have said they would limit the use of Woods in its marketing.
It signed him up in 1996 when Woods turned professional in a deal worth $40m (£25m) a year. Before then, it had not entered the golf market.
Despite the public backing, in private Knight and the other Nike executives must be nervous about Woods's future in the game. The company's association with Woods, like that with other sporting greats, has fuelled Nike's expansion.
It has built a brand with the slogan Just Do It, by associating with controversial sportsmen, from whom more conservative sponsors have shied away. Other Nike stars have included John McEnroe, Ronaldo and Michael Jordan.
In his interview, Knight said of Woods: "I think he's been really great".
Woods continues to feature prominently on Nike's website. "Being the best takes dedication, patience and insight. For Tiger Woods, these are the pillars of his approach," it says.
The Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer said it would also continue to sponsor Woods, saying the company did not care about the golfer's private life.
Company spokeswoman Mariam Sylla said the sponsorship was unchanged because Woods remained the world's best golfer.
"He's the best in his domain. We respect his performance in the sport," she said, adding that Woods's personal life was "not our business." Tag Heuer has been sponsoring Woods since 2002.
Woods earned around $100m a year in endorsements.
Written by EXEGOLF
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