Totalsports removes Etzebeth poster ahead of Rugby World Cup final
With the final of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan looming, Totalsports announced that it had removed posters of Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth from its stores.
The company said the media controversy around Etzebeth had been “felt in our stores”.
“As a brand, we don’t do controversies, we do sport — so we made the decision to remove his poster.
“Without taking sides or passing judgment, we wanted to make sure all our customers feel comfortable in our stores,” it said.
The removal of Etzebeth's posters was met with outrage on social media, with some threatening to boycott Totalsports.
“You will never see me or any of my family and friends in any of your stores. Cheers!!!! Hope you go the same way Spur went,” a comment read.
Another read: “One of your stores have a pair of Adidas and Puma’s for me. Might be small fry to you but consider that R3,000 sale gone! Won’t see my business again!‼ By removing the poster you did pick a side and you made a grave mistake in the process! Cheers.”
Many also criticised Totalsports for the timing of its announcement, with the Bok squad now training for the #2019RWC final against England on Saturday.
“Will never shop at Totalsports again, very intelligent move and that a week before the WC Finals,” a comment read.
Etzebeth, a key player with the national team at the World Cup, has been accused of physically and racially abusing four people during an altercation outside a pub in Langebaan, in the Western Cape.
The four are claiming R1m in damages.
Etzebeth denied the allegations on social media before leaving for Japan.
Two weeks ago, the Springbok said he would take the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to court. This after comments by SAHRC legal head Buang Jones at a public meeting early in October. He said Etzebeth “is used to getting away with murder” and that he “should be in a prison cell” in Langebaan.
Despite the controversy, Etzebeth has received huge backing from Facebook users, who started the #StandByEben page. It is flooded with pictures of the Springbok and messages of support for him and the national side.