Row erupts over German football team switching supplier from Adidas to Nike

  • By Tom Espiner
  • Business reporter, BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Adidas has supplied the kit for the German national team for more than 70 years

The German Football Association’s (DFB) decision to switch the supplier of the national team’s kit away from Adidas has been blasted by politicians.

The contract will pass from the German company to US firm Nike from 2027.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck said he would have “liked a bit more local patriotism”, while Health Minister Karl Lauterbach called the decision “wrong”.

The DFB said the deal made financial sense and would support grassroots German football.

Adidas has supplied the kit for the German national football team for more than 70 years.

However, according to reports in the German press, Nike agreed to pay about €100m (£86m; $108m) per year to supply the kit, doubling Adidas’s payment of €50m.

The deal, announced on Thursday, was greeted with dismay by German politicians on the left and right.

“I can hardly imagine the German jersey without the three stripes,” Mr Habeck said. “For me, Adidas and black-red-gold always belonged together. A piece of German identity.”

And Bavarian premier Markus Soeder said the national team always plays in the three stripes of Adidas. “That was as clear as the fact that the ball is round and a game lasts 90 minutes,” he said.

“The success story began in 1954 with the unforgettable World Cup victory, which gave our country self-confidence again. That’s why it’s wrong, a shame and also incomprehensible that this story should end now.”

He said German football should not be “a pawn in international corporate battles” and that “commerce isn’t everything”.

The DFB said on X that it understood the emotional reaction to its decision, saying switching supplier after 70 years was a “drastic event” that “doesn’t leave us cold”.

However, it said the grassroots of German football, with “more than 24,000 football clubs, 2.2 million active players, the numerous volunteers and almost 55,000 referees”, is financed by the DFB.

“Against this background, the DFB has to make economic decisions,” it said. “Nike made by far the best financial offer in the transparent and non-discriminatory tender process.”

“The future partnership with Nike ensures that we can continue to carry out our central tasks for football in the coming decade,” it added.

The announcement of the Nike deal comes just months ahead of Euro 2024. Germany’s men’s team is using Adidas’s headquarters in Herzogenaurach, near Nuremberg, as its base for the tournament, which Germany is hosting.

Adidas said it would not comment on contractual details.

The row over the German kit comes as politicians in England criticise a Nike design for the England team kit.

The FA has defended the design, saying “it is not the first time” different colours have been used.


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