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Nike drops Pacquiao endorsement over anti-gay remarks

World-renowned boxer and congressman Manny Pacquiao has lost his sponsorship deal with Nike, one of the world's largest sports equipment companies. Pacquiao has asked for "forgiveness" on social media.

US sport equipment giant Nike ended its contract with Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday after he described gays as being "worse than animals."

"We find Manny Pacquiao's comments abhorrent," Nike said in a statement. "Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community."

"We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao," the statement added.

Speaking to the Philippines' TV5 on Monday, Pacquiao said animals were "better off" than gays.

"It's just common sense. Do you see any animals of the same sex mating? Animals are better off, they can distinguish between male and female," Pacquiao told the Filipino TV station.

"Now if men are mating with men and women with women, then they are worse than animals," the 37-year-old congressman added.

The Philippines does not recognize same-sex marriages or unions, a view held by the mainstream Roman Catholic Church. The church has significant moral authority in the country, with 80 percent of the country's 100 million inhabitants subscribing to the faith.

'Sorry'

Pacquiao quickly apologized via social media after the controversy erupted, saying he was only defending his faith.

"I'm sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I've hurt," Pacquiao said in a video message posted on his Twitter account.

The Filipino boxer is scheduled to participate in the final fight of his career on April 9 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

ls/cmk (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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