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Berlin says German FA lacks 'patriotism' for dropping Adidas


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 on Friday, with the economy minister blasting the switch to U.S. sportswear giant Nike for its lack of "patriotism."

"I can hardly imagine the Germany shirt without the three stripes," Economy Minister Robert Habeck said in a statement, referring to the German manufacturer's trademarked branding.

"For me, Adidas and black-red-gold always belonged together," Habeck said, describing the pairing of the stripes and the national flag colors 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 its partnership with Adidas - spanning more than 70 years and four World Cup triumphs - would stop at the end of 2026. From 2027, Germany's footballers will wear jerseys manufactured by the sportswear giant Nike.

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

"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 – referencing a quote by Sepp Herberger, the coach who led the then West Germany to a first World Cup triumph in 1954, kickstarting decades of German domination.


Chancellor Olaf Scholz declined to comment on the DFB's decision in detail.

"The important thing is that goals are scored," Scholz said at a press conference in Brussels, where he was attending a European leaders' summit.

Germany's kit supplier switch was a "shame," 22-year-old student Noah Calic said by an Adidas store in Berlin. "Something in terms of culture and tradition is being sold."

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.

Adidas CEO Bjorn Gulden is reported by the German daily Bild to have made a last minute effort to win over DFB bosses in Frankfurt on Wednesday, tabling a bid of between $65 and $70 million a year.

The contract with Nike is however said to be worth around $110 million a year, according to the Handelsblatt financial daily.

The money from the Nike deal would enable the association to fulfill its commitment to "German football and its development," the DFB said.

'Global heroes'

The lucrative tie-up was "an important business deal at the right time," said Christoph Breuer from the Cologne-based Institute for Sports Economy and Sports Management.

The DFB faces "financial worries" and had "no choice" but to pick the package put forward by Nike.

The DFB has come under increasing pressure as its teams have struggled at major tournaments.

The association is still on the hook for the salary of Hansi Flick, who was fired as coach of the men's team last year, and has seen the costs of its new campus spiral.

With Nike's cash injection, the sports national body could "invest more in children and youth sport as well as women's football", Breuer said.

None of that would remedy a "bitter loss in its home market" for Adidas, which recorded its first loss in 30 years in 2023, he said. Another messy break-up – with the U.S. 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 signaled an otherwise tepid short-term outlook on Thursday. The U.S. group had the ability to make the German team "a global brand and make their athletes global heroes," Nike CEO John Donahoe said. 

Berlin says German FA lacks 'patriotism' for dropping Adidas

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Source(s): AFP
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