Adidas can declare itself the winner over arch rival Nike in the upcoming soccer World Cup even before the first match kicks off as it is kitting out the most teams.
However, the German sportswear brand, which is also the official sponsor of the tournament, expects only a limited financial impact, partly because this year’s World Cup takes place in Russia, where the economy is in the doldrums.
“The World Cup in Russia does carry lower financial opportunities than the similar event four years ago in Brazil,” Adidas Chief Executive Kasper Rorsted said earlier this month.
“At the same time, we’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a fantastic way of bringing our brand to life globally,” Rorsted added.
Since the last tournament in 2014, Adidas has grown sales rapidly in areas other than soccer, capitalising on booming demand for its retro basketball sneakers and springy Boost running shoes to outpace Nike, particularly in the U.S. market.
Nevertheless, soccer remains important for the image of the German brand, which has supplied the World Cup match ball since 1970 and has a deal to sponsor the event until 2030.
It also announced last week it will extend its partnership with the UEFA Champions League until 2021.
After Nike kitted out more teams for the first time in Brazil in 2014, Adidas has fought back, this year sponsoring 12 of the 32 participating teams, including strong contenders like Germany and Spain, along with hosts Russia.
Nike, which only got heavily involved in soccer when the World Cup was played in the United States in 1994, is supplying shirts for 10 countries, including Brazil, France and England.
“The World Cup is such a powerful moment in sport, and we look forward to amplifying its energy,” Nike Chief Executive Mark Parker said in March.