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Published:June 8th, 2006 15:01 EST
Sports Apparel Giants Also in Competition at World Cup

Sports Apparel Giants Also in Competition at World Cup

By Maria Grella

The soccer players in this year’s World Cup are wearing apparel and equipment made from Nike, Adidas, Puma and others, encouraging fanatics of the sport race out to purchase items of their team favorites.  Each company is trying to make their product stand out from their competitor, as international play begins.  Germany, host country of the Cup this year, will have an estimated 3 million visitors, with millions of spectators at home watching the 64-game tournament. 

The players, along with making their respective home countries proud, are also serving as models, of a sort.  Their every move during training and game time is being caught in photos, film and this subconscious advertising is being transmitted to unsuspecting fans all over the world.  The better their team does, the more screen time they get.  The same is true of individual athletes; the more goals scored, the more they are shown.

The official FIFA sponsor is Adidas AG, a role it has played since 1970.  Although Adidas has the edge, the other two major companies are kicking it into high gear to entice shoppers to buy their shoes, T-shirts and jerseys, and other soccer products.  Adidas, Nike and Puma are focusing their efforts on the teams they outfit.  Adidas is clothing the teams of Argentina, Spain, Trinidad, Tobago and Japan.  Nike has only been making team soccer uniforms since the 1998 World Cup, but nonetheless, their offensive move is to supply attire to Brazil, the United States, Portugal, the Netherlands, Mexico, Croatia, South Korea and Australia. 

The company is betting on Brazil superstars, Ronaldhino and Rondaldo, as well as England’s Wayne Rooney, and Thierry Henry of France.  Nike is also using online promotion on its joga.com website, where fans can form global networks and download video podcasts of their star players.  Nike has seen revenue increase in its soccer division from $40 million annually to $1.5 billion.

Puma is the choice tailor of Italy, Poland, Paraguay, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Angola, Ghana, Iran, Togo, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.  Other apparel companies are Umbro, outfitting England and Sweden, Lotto for Ukraine and Serbia-Montenegro, Joma for Costa Rica, and Marathon for Ecuador.  Puma has captured 9% of the global market, while Nike has 30%, with Adidas leading at 35%.  Adidas has bought out Reebok for $3.5 billion, and is hoping to expand its presence both nationally and internationally. 

The World Cup being in Germany, home-base for Adidas, gives them the home advantage.  Germany is Adidas’ strongest market.  The company has released kits for teams, stocking their stores with World Cup merchandise, and wisely tying in the advertising as the pride of Germany and the sport of soccer.  Their famous 3 stripe logo will also be displayed on all 12 stadiums hosting the games of the tournament.  As official sponsor, expected revenue is to reach well over the $1 billion mark, with $10 million alone due to this year’s specially designed soccer balls.