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Berlin says German FA lacks ‘patriotism’ for dropping Adidas

The German national football team’s decision to drop Adidas as its kit supplier sparked dismay in Berlin.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said he can 'hardly imagine the Germany shirt without the three stripes' of Adidas.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said he can 'hardly imagine the Germany shirt without the three stripes' of Adidas. - Copyright AFP/File DIBYANGSHU SARKAR
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said he can 'hardly imagine the Germany shirt without the three stripes' of Adidas. - Copyright AFP/File DIBYANGSHU SARKAR
Sebastien ASH

The German national football team’s decision to drop Adidas as its kit supplier sparked dismay in Berlin on Friday, with the economy minister blasting the switch to US sportswear giant Nike as a lack of “patriotism”.

“I can hardly imagine the Germany shirt without the three stripes,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck said in a statement sent to AFP.

“For me, Adidas and black-red-gold always belonged together,” Habeck said, describing the pairing of the company’s trademark stripe and the national flag colours as a “piece of German identity”.

With the homegrown sportswear brand and the economy both experiencing tough times, Habeck said he “would have hoped for more patriotism” from the German Football Association (DFB).

The DFB on Thursday said it would end its decades-long partnership with Adidas, selecting Nike as its new supplier from 2027.

The collaboration between Adidas and the national team goes all the way back to the 1950s and Germany’s first World Cup success in 1954.

The switch from Adidas was the “wrong decision”, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said Thursday on X, formerly Twitter.

The move saw “commerce destroy a tradition and a piece of home”, Lauterbach said.

The shock announcement came just a few months before Germany is set to host the men’s European football championships from June.

– ‘Emotional’ –

“The national team plays in three stripes — that is as clear as the ball is round and the game lasts 90 minutes”, Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder said on X.

The German FA said Thursday it understood the decision to drop Adidas was “emotional”.

“For us as an association, it is also a turning point when it is clear that a partnership marked by special moments is coming to an end after more than 70 years,” the DFB said on X.

The deal with Nike, which will run through 2034, was “by far the best financial offer” on the table, the DFB said.

According to the Handelsblatt financial daily, the contract with the US company was worth around 100 million euros ($108 million) a year — twice as much as the reported value of the Adidas deal.

The money would enable the association to fulfil its commitment to “German football and its development”, the DFB said.

The new partnership would provide more support for the women’s game and grassroots sport, Nike Europe told AFP’s sports news subsidiary SID.

– ‘Global heroes’ –

The DFB on Thursday announced another partnership with the social media app TikTok starting with this summer’s home tournament.

TikTok, which faces growing regulatory pressure in the United States for its Chinese ownership, was a “dynamic and globally growing platform”, DFB CEO Holger Blask said in a statement.

The partnership would help “showcase” the 2024 championships and “strengthen the presence” of the national team online, Blask said.

The loss of the German national team contract is a bitter blow for Adidas, which recorded its first loss in 30 years in 2023.

Another messy break-up with the US artist Kanye West, who once spurned Nike for the German group, has weighed on Adidas’s activities.

The DFB tie-up is a coup for Nike, which signalled an otherwise tepid short-term outlook on Thursday.

The US group had the ability to make the German team “a global brand and make their athletes global heroes”, Nike CEO John Donahoe said.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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