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Nike Scores Early in World Cup Sponsorship Shootout With Adidas

Neymar Jr. takes part in the Brazil team training session at Arena de Sao Paulo on June 11 in Sao Paulo
Neymar Jr. takes part in the Brazil team training session at Arena de Sao Paulo on June 11 in Sao PauloPhotograph by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The biggest non-soccer rivalry at this year’s World Cup in Brazil pits Nike against Adidas, the subject of a recent cover story for Bloomberg Businessweek. Adidas is the incumbent in the apparel war, as reporter Brendan Greeley explained, the company that pioneered athletic sponsorships as we know them and an official FIFA sponsor since 1970. Nike is the upstart buying top teams and players instead of the World Cup itself, creating a parallel event through elaborate ad campaigns. “Adidas backs athletes,” as Greeley writes, “Nike backs athletic celebrities.”

A report released Thursday, hours before the first match, provides some early results in the battle between the two apparel giants as well as a variety of fascinating information on soccer marketing. In the global conversation about the World Cup on Twitter, the sports-marketing researchers at Repucom found Nike to be a close second behind Adidas among brands.

Nike, it appears, is doing just fine without spending the estimated $70 million that Adidas spends on FIFA rights for each tournament.