Thirteen of the 32 participating countries will wear Nike Inc. jerseys at the FIFA World Cup this weekend, the most of any sportswear sponsor.
Only seven countries will be outfitted by Adidas AG this year. Nike has only outperformed Adidas three times, and this is its biggest lead over Adidas in history.
A number of powerhouse teams, including Brazil, England, and France, have Nike deals. Nearly two-thirds of teams at the 1990 World Cup in Italy were outfitted by Adidas, at the peak of its dominance.
For sportswear companies to capture a share of the $30 billion global licensed sports merchandise market, kit licensing deals are vital. World Cup kits have been dominated by Adidas for decades. As a major sponsor of the 1974 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the company sponsored nine of the 16 teams. Since 1998, Nike has sponsored five teams competing at the World Cup, growing its market share steadily.
As a result of teams wearing jerseys embossed with the three stripes, Adidas benefits.
Stefan Pursche, a spokesperson for Adidas, explained that quantity is important, but so is quality. Argentina, Spain, Belgium, and Germany are among the top favorites for the title.
According to FIFA’s rankings, six of the seven nations wearing Adidas’s kits are among the world’s top-20 teams. It sponsors top-ranked teams – seven of the teams it equips are among the top-20 – but also lower-ranked teams like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who both rank among the worst. It is Brazil, however, that will be wearing the swoosh this year – the country with the most titles and the favorite to win the World Cup again this year.