MLS, SUM announce landmark sponsorship agreement with adidas

Major League Soccer, Soccer United Marketing and adidas today formally announced an exclusive 10-year partnership agreement granting adidas the official athletic sponsor and licensed product supplier for the United States' Division I professional league. The partnership incorporates every aspect of the game, from product creation, to grassroots programs, television rights and retail distribution. Among the highlights of the deal, adidas and MLS plan to work with the soccer community on a developmental league that will provide opportunities for future soccer stars.

Under the agreement, which is the largest in the League's history, adidas will be granted the exclusive rights to sales of all MLS League and team-branded product, including apparel and equipment, during the next 10 years. Beginning in 2005 with Major League Soccer's 10th season, adidas apparel and equipment will be featured in major retail stores across the country as part of extensive national retail development plans for an expanded MLS product offering. Additionally, adidas will develop MLS specific marketing and advertising and commercially support every team.

"With adidas as our partner, MLS looks forward to a decade of support and innovation that will contribute significantly to the continued growth of our League in this country," said Don Garber, Commissioner of Major League Soccer and CEO of Soccer United Marketing. "adidas' leadership position in worldwide soccer includes an unrivaled legacy in the United States. Its commitment to MLS is a clear indication of the League's position on the global sports landscape and its prospects for the near future."

adidas has been a partner of MLS since the League's inception and currently sponsors the MLS Player Combine and annual MLS SuperDraft. The company is also a charter supplier of three MLS teams - D.C. United (Washington, D.C.), the Columbus Crew (Columbus, OH), and the Kansas City Wizards (Kansas City, MO) - and in 2005 will become the sponsor of the League's two expansion clubs: CD Chivas USA (Los Angeles, CA) and Real Salt Lake (Salt Lake City, UT), as well as the Colorado Rapids (Denver, CO), FC Dallas (Dallas, TX) and the San Jose Earthquakes (San Jose, CA). adidas will subsequently assume exclusive rights to outfit all of the league's 12 teams, as well as supplying the League's Official Match Ball.

In addition, adidas will become the only athletic brand with exclusive broadcast advertising rights for all MLS games as well as the presenting sponsor for the U.S. television coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2. Soccer United Marketing holds the English-language broadcast rights for the World Cup in Germany. adidas is the official sponsor and supplier of the FIFA 2006 World Cup. adidas will also become a sponsor of InterLiga, the annual qualifying tournament for Mexican clubs to the prestigious Copa Libertadores. Soccer United Marketing also holds the exclusive marketing and promotional rights for the competition which is played in the United States.

"For more than 80 years, adidas has made a strong commitment to soccer at all levels, and this partnership allows us to share that passion with millions of American soccer fans for years to come," said Erich Stamminger, member of the Executive Board of adidas-Salomon AG responsible for Global marketing and President and CEO of adidas America. "adidas is confident that this partnership will accelerate the development of Major League Soccer into one of the best, most exciting, leagues in the world."

As the worldwide leader in the sport, adidas has developed a near 50 percent market share in footwear in U.S. soccer. Building on adidas's longstanding relationship with U.S. Youth Soccer, adidas and Major League Soccer will develop marketing initiatives to connect even more deeply with young soccer fans in the United States. Additional outreach initiatives will also aim to bring the two brands closer to soccer fans within Hispanic communities across the country.

adidas is a global soccer leader and currently partners with many of the world's major soccer clubs and federations including: Real Madrid (Spain), A.C. Milan (Italy), Bayern Munich (Germany) and the national teams of Germany, France, Argentina, China, Canada and Australia. The company also sponsors many of the world's international soccer stars including David Beckham (Real Madrid), Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid), Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus) and Michael Ballack (Bayern Munich).

About adidas-Salomon AG
adidas is a global designer, developer and marketer of athletic footwear, apparel and accessories with the mission to be the leading sports brand in the world. adidas America is a subsidiary of adidas-Salomon AG, a corporation that also includes sports brands Salomon, TaylorMade, Bonfire and Mavic.

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.