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Al Sharpton calls on PayPal to cut ties with controversial Phoenix Suns owner

AP Photo/Joshua Bessex
The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks during a service at the Antioch Baptist Church on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is urging American financial technology company PayPal to end its partnership with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and its owner, Robert Sarver, who is facing allegations of racism and misogyny.

“I am writing to demand that PayPal cease doing business with any entity owned or associated with Robert Sarver, including the Phoenix Suns, the Phoenix Mercury, and Real Club Deportivo Mallorca,” Sharpton wrote in his letter to PayPal CEO Dan Schulman.

“Mr. Sarver’s leadership has been riddled with credible allegations of racism, misogyny, and harboring a toxic work environment.” 

Sharpton, the founder and CEO of the National Action Network, noted that PayPal has made significant contributions to fighting institutional racism and advancing diversity and inclusion in the aftermath of the nationwide protests and unrest following the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020.

PayPal announced in June 2020 that it would commit $535 million toward Black- and minority-owned businesses and communities in the U.S. 

“Yet, PayPal has continued to do business with Robert Sarver, who is a known perpetrator of racism and hate, and is now expanding its business relationship with Mr. Sarver internationally,” Sharpton added in his letter. “In light of these commitments, PayPal cannot simply ignore Mr. Sarver’s transgressions.”

Sharpton’s letter comes after the NBA announced in November that it had launched an investigation into the Suns organization and Sarver’s conduct following an ESPN report that detailed allegation of racist and misogynistic behavior toward coaches, players and employees.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said at the league’s annual Board of Governors meeting last month that its investigation into Sarver and his organization is nearing completion, the AZ Central reported

Sharpton has previously called on the NBA to remove Sarver as the owner of the Suns.

PayPal and the Suns signed a multiyear endorsement deal ahead of the 2018-19 season, according to The Arizona Republic. The payments company is also the jersey patch partner for the Suns, the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and Spain’s Real Club Deportivo Mallorca soccer club.

The Hill has reached out to PayPal and the Suns for comment.

Sharpton’s letter to Schulman was also published in a full-page ad in the Republic. 

“It is time for PayPal to put its money where its mouth is. Issuing a press release and writing a big check two years ago is not equivalent to doing the hard work that is required to achieve real change,” Sharpton concluded.

Tags Al Sharpton Arizona AZ Central misogyny NBA PayPal Pheonix Mercury Phoenix Phoenix Suns racial discrimination Real Club Deportivo Mallorca Robert Sarver Robert Sarver workplace misconduct

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