|The track at Adi Dassler Stadion, on the campus of |
adidas headquarters in Herzogenaurach
(photo courtesy adidas)
In what could potentially have major implications on the events put on by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), including the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships in Portland in March, the federation’s top sponsor, adidas, has informed the IAAF that it will terminate its global sponsorship early, according to a report from the British Broadcasting Company.
The BBC report says that in the wake of the doping scandal sweeping the sport, along with the reports of corruption within the organization under former president Lamine Diack, adidas told IAAF officials that it would terminate their sponsorship agreement, which was scheduled to end in 2019, immediately.
The adidas sponsorship was for all IAAF World Athletics Series events, including the world indoor championships in Portland. According to an IAAF release written in November 2008, “adidas will be the official IAAF athletics sponsor and licensee product supplier for the next decade. The partnership incorporates every aspect of athletics, from product creation, to grassroots development and retail distribution.”
Among other things that adidas does for the IAAF is that it provides uniforms, shoes, and bags to the volunteers, staff, and officials at every World Athletics Series event, which the Portland meet falls under.
The BBC report stated that adidas considers the accusation of corruption within the IAAF as a breach of their sponsorship deal, and are prepared for legal action should the organization challenge the termination of the sponsorship deal in court.
The IAAF’s major sponsors include Canon, Toyota, Seiko, TDK, Tokyo Broadcasting System, and Mondo. The IAAF uses the Japanese firm Dentsu as its marketing agent to sell global sponsorships of the federation, under a partnership that goes until the end of 2029.
adidas made headlines recently when the company, along with several other sponsors, spoke out about the corruption within soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, but stopped short of joining other sponsors Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa and Budweiser in calling for the resignation of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
If indeed adidas is out as the IAAF sponsor, it potentially opens the door for Beaverton-based Nike (or for that matter, any other sportswear manufacturer) to replace adidas, assuming a deal can be reached with the IAAF and Dentsu, who would be the group that would sell the sponsorship rights on the IAAF's behalf.
Nike is one of the major contributors to TrackTown USA, the Eugene-based group organizing the Portland world indoor championships, as well as this year’s US Olympic Track & Field Trials, and the 2021 IAAF world track & field championships in Eugene.
My take is that hopefully, cooler heads at adidas, Dentsu and the IAAF can prevail, and that they can make the rest of the contract work. Making it work is probably a lot cheaper than going through the courts, not to mention the public relations mess a long court battle will put on all parties.
paulmerca.blogspot.com has reached out to adidas officials for comment and to confirm the BBC report.