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Store defends flag likened to Ku Klux Klan outfit

By Eoghan Macguire, for CNN
updated 7:46 AM EDT, Sat May 31, 2014
Customers enter an ASDA store in London, England.
Customers enter an ASDA store in London, England.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • British supermarket ASDA unveils hooded flag for World Cup fans
  • Critics claim the flag resembles Ku Klux Klan outfit
  • ASDA defends the product and says it is nothing more than a flag

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(CNN) -- A British supermarket chain has defended the sale of a wearable England flag that has been compared to a Ku Klux Klan uniform.

The white and red flag of St. George in stock at ASDA outlets features a pointed hood which the store says will allow English fans to show support their national team during the World Cup while keeping dry during the notoriously unpredictable British summertime.

But some fans have taken to social media sites to register their disapproval of the similarities between the £3 ($5) flags and the hooded outfits worn by the KKK.

Twitter user @beyondlimits posted "Dear ASDA, Your wearable klu klux klan style England flag is not acceptable."

Meanwhile, @iAmNaemaan said "I don't think ASDA thought the whole 'wearable flag' thing through properly."

Pictures of the offending item have since been tweeted and retweeted hundreds of times on the micro-blogging site.

A subsidiary of the American retail giant Walmart, ADSA issued a statement to CNN Friday addressing their surprise at the controversy and stressing that their hooded flag product is also available in other country's national colors.

"We know there's chatter on twitter about our wearable World Cup flags, but it's simply a flag with a hood -- nothing more, nothing less," the statement read.

"We opted for a hood on our wearable England and Brazilian flags as you never know what the British weather will bring.

"We want customers to get behind the team without getting wet."

The flag is just one of numerous World Cup themed items ASDA has been stocking in the run up to the tournament which kicks-off in Brazil on June 12.

Other British supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's offer similar World Cup items which extend into products like beers, food, barbecues and televisions.

Last year the British Retail Consortium estimated that the British economy could lose £2 billion ($3.5 billion) if England failed to qualify for the World Cup. Businesses are hence keen to cash in on the event while it lasts.

However, it wasn't just Twitter users suggesting ASDA might have struck the wrong note with the wearable England flag.

"In theory it was a good idea because it's England and it rains," Simon Chadwick, professor of Sport Business Strategy and Marketing at Coventry University, told CNN.

"However, I think it does show a lack of good judgment and discretion on the part of people working for ASDA."

"This is particularly the case in this country as there's a debate right now about the St George's Cross, about the flag, about immigration and the rise of UKIP," referring to the success of the Euro-skeptic political party in recent local and European Union elections.

"I think this showed a lack of good judgment on the part of the management," he said.

Read: '31-0 - On the Road with Football's Outsiders'

Read: FIFA's World Cup 2014 bus slogans

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