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Adidas omnipresent at World Cup

The official match footballs for all 64 games are neatly lined in rows at the new product centre of Adidas.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2006 16:11 IST

The official match footballs for all 64 World Cup games are neatly lined in rows at the new product centre of German sporting goods manufacturer Adidas.

For the group stages beginning June 9, the dates of the games, the venues and the names of the teams are already printed on the shimmering match balls known as Teamgeist (team spirit).

"The other balls will have the names printed on them once the pairings are known," says Alberto de Torres Lacroze, an Argentine who deals with the company's foreign press relations at the World Cup.

Adidas, an official partner and provider of equipment to football's governing body FIFA, has never invested as much in a sporting event as it has in the World Cup.

"It is an enormous challenge in terms of logistics," says marketing director Erich Stamminger, citing equipment for referees and specially designed "uniforms" for the 15,000 stewards and assistants at the 12 World Cup cities.

That is in addition to the boots and strips the company provides to some of the 32 teams competing in Germany.

Then there are the boys and girls marching into the stadiums hand-in-hand with the players, ball-boys, flag carriers and team escorts, who all need to be kitted out.

"One of our main tasks is to equip 3,392 children across the country with more than 30,000 articles of clothing and equipment," according to the company.

The distinctive Adidas logo of three stripes will be seen on nearly 200,000 products in use at the month-long tournament, which ends with the final in Berlin on July 9.

Adidas is already assured of being one of the winner's of the year's biggest event, increasing its annual turnover from football products to 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) from 900 million euros in 2005.

But the company is also mindful of its image, following criticism levelled against it by the international clean clothes campaign over conditions in some of the overseas factories that produce Adidas goods.

Manger Frank Henke, who is responsible for social affairs and environmental issues, says Adidas has more than 700 suppliers around the globe, including China, Thailand and Vietnam.

Contracts with these firms include a code of behaviour, which regulates pay, working conditions and the number of hours that employees work, says Henke.

"Of course we cannot guarantee that all our suppliers abide by all the conditions all the time," says Henke.

Adidas has introduced a system of warnings to clamp down on supplier malpractice, Henke says. If an employer is found to be a habitual violator of the code of conduct, then the company will cease working with him.