LONDON (Reuters) - Golfer Sergio Garcia is a “really good guy”, the head of his sponsor Adidas said on Friday, indicating the sportswear company would not drop the Spaniard over a jibe directed at Tiger Woods.
Garcia was forced to defend himself against accusations of racism after he said he planned to invite rival Woods to dinner and serve him “fried chicken”.
Fried chicken has become a racial stereotype in the United States when referring to African-Americans - a reference to the days before the abolition of slavery when chicken was believed to be a staple part of the diet.
“This was a stupid comment he made, he has apologized for that already,” Adidas Chief Executive Herbert Hainer told Reuters.
Hainer went on to praise Garcia’s character, saying he had got to know him well over more than a decade.
“Sergio is a really good guy,” Hainer said at a promotional event in London before Saturday’s Champions League soccer final.
“He’s definitely not somebody who has issues with people, be it with gender or color or things like that,” he added.
“He has apologized for that, he realized he had made a mistake but he definitely didn’t mean it in the wrong way.”
Golf equipment company TaylorMade, part of Adidas, issued a statement earlier this week criticizing Garcia for an “offensive” comment and saying it was reviewing the matter.
However, Hainer’s support suggests that further action is now unlikely.
Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Mark Meadows