PayPal Vows To Not Continue Its Sponsorship Of Suns Unless Robert Sarver Steps Down
Per reports from ESPN, PayPal has stated that it will not be renewing its sponsorship with the Phoenix Suns if Robert Sarver continues in his role as majority owner of the team after his one-year suspension is over. PayPal is the jersey patch partner of the Suns organization. PayPal CEO & president Dan Schulman issued a statement, stating that the company reviewed the reports of the NBA’s independent investigation. Schulman notes that PayPal’s values conflict with Sarver’s reported conduct.
“PayPal is a values-driven company and has a strong record of combatting racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination. We have reviewed the report of the NBA league’s independent investigation into Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and have found his conduct unacceptable and in conflict with our values.”
The Suns’ sponsorship with PayPal began back in 2018, and it included the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and Spanish soccer Real Club Deportivo Mallorca ball clubs. The deal with all three organizations is set to expire after the 2022-23 season. Sarver owns all three ball clubs. Officials say that the deal with the Suns is worth $3 million total during the 2021-22 NBA season.
The NBA issued a 1-year suspension and $10 million fine to Sarver after its independent investigation discovered that he violated its workplace standards. NBA Communications issued a statement on Tuesday regarding the investigation into the Suns. The league stated that it found that Sarver used the N-word at least five times “when recounting the statements of others” during his tenure with both the Suns and Mercury franchises. The NBA also reportedly found instances of “inequitable conduct towards female employees,” including inappropriate comments regarding the appearances of employees and “sex-related comments.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke to media on Wednesday, defending the disciplinary action taken against Sarver by saying he believes the leagued handled the situation “in a fair manner”. Silver also stated that he was in “disbelief to a certain extent” over what he learned had transpired in the Suns organization. Silver also said that he was “disheartened” by the revelation, and issued an apology to both the former and current Phoenix Suns employees.
Sarver cannot return to the Suns until the beginning of the 2023-24 season.
ESPN has more HERE.
Minority owner and vice chairman of the Phoenix Suns, Jahm Najafi, has called for Sarver’s resignation. Najafi stated in an open letter to team employees that there should be a “zero tolerance” policy for lewd, misogynistic and racist conduct in any workplace. Najafi is the franchise’s second-largest stakeholder.
Najafi has reportedly been very critical of Sarver since the allegations were first made public by ESPN back in November. In the open letter, Najafi said he felt that similar conduct done by any other CEO, president, teacher would never have been tolerated by other professional organizations.
“Similar conduct by any CEO, executive director, president, teacher, coach, or any other position of leadership would warrant immediate termination,” Najafi said. “The fact that Robert Sarver ‘owns’ the team does not give him a license to treat others differently than any other leader. The fact that anyone would find him fit to lead because of this ‘ownership’ position is forgetting that NBA teams belong to the communities they serve.”
Read more about Najafi’s open letter HERE.