Sunday, April 30, 2006

World Cup: Adidas versus Puma: A bit of history

Herzogenaurach in Germany is where Adidas and Puma have been centred almost 100 years. Adidas was founded in the town by two brothers, Adolf and Rudolf Dassler, who between them established the international sportswear company. But they fell out and became rivals with Adidas and Puma.

Adi Dassler started crafting shoes in a washroom in 1920 with leftover war scraps. He was 20 years of age and a sports devotee so he crafted handmade leather sports shoes in his mother's house. The name Adidas comes from the combination of his nickname, Adi and Dassler. The famous three stripes logo was to represent his three sons. After Adi developed soccer boot studs the business boomed under the Nazis . He later went on to design his first spiked track-and-field shoes in 1925 and Jesse Owens won four Olympic golds in 1936 wearing Dassler shoes.

After the War Adi who had worked closely with his brother Rudolf, fell out and when Rudi returned to Germany in 1948 he set up his own factory on the other side of the river. To add insult to injury he took loyal staff with him and called his business Puma. Both sorts companies continued to sell well but were fierce rivals. The town has been divided ever since and even spawned two local rival football teams with pitches not more than 100 metres from each other . RSV is sponsored by Adidas, FC Herzogenaurach 1916 by Puma . In the 1920s, Adi and Rudi Dassler were not always rivals and worked happily at the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik. In 1954 The German National Team won the World Cup wearing Adidas screw-in boot studs the idea for which was claimed by Puma. Indeed Germany's national team has won all three of its World Cup titles in Adidas shoes. Rivalry continued and in 1962 World Cup , Pele wore Puma Boots. Later in 1971 Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier both donned Adidas boots for the "Fight of the Century".Court battles abounded over the years to prevent each other from claiming world supremacy for their products. Endorsements of sports stars also became a game of one up manship with the management of sports stars like Boris Becker playing one company against the other.

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