For those who aren’t completely immersed in the world of football boots, it may shock you to know that two of the leading global brands, PUMA and adidas hail from the same German town. Indeed, they even trace their origins back to the same family of cobblers.
But for the last 60 odd years, relations between the two have been anything but family-like.
Back in the 1940’s, there was a huge bust up between the two Dassler brothers, Adi and Rudi, as they used an air-raid shelter. During a Second World War Allied bomb attack, Adi and his wife climbed into a bomb shelter that Rudi and his family were already in. “The dirty b******s are back again,” Adi said, apparently referring to the Allied warplanes. Rudi was convinced that his brother meant him and his family. That was that.
Adi Dassler (as pictured on our home page) was an athlete in his own right
Their original company, which made the spikes worn by the great Jesse Owens at the Berlin Olympics, was split in to two and have gone on to the huge successes that we know today. Despite this, the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, population 12,500, remains split. Indeed, it is known as the ‘place of bent necks’ such is the tradition to check out everyone else’s footwear where the staff employed by each company live separate lives. Forget Celtic v Rangers, Barca v Madrid or United v City – this has been without doubt, one of the most ferocious and bitter rivalries within sport.
An early PUMA boot with screw-in studs
However, all that could be about to change. A peace initiative has been launched with the present day bosses of both companies agreeing to publicly shake hands in a display of reconciliation. Further, following this symbolic gesture, due to take place on 21st September, workers from the two firms are to play a game of football together.
The idea is the brainchild of English actor and film-maker Jeremy Gilley. He already had a working relationship with PUMA through the ‘One Day One Goal‘ football campaign that aims to instigate matches in all member states of the United Nations, also on 21st September. Last year, there were matches played in 180 countries. This year, Gilley is aiming for all 192 UN members and beyond.
Jeremy Gilley is the founder and chairman of Peace One Day
The director has certainly worked his magic in Herzogenaurach as after Monday’s historic football match, employees of both companies will sit down together and watch Gilley’s 2008 film ‘The Day after Peace’.
Chief executive of adidas Herbert Hainer said he was proud to be taking part in the project and added:
We firmly believe that sport can bring the world together. Sport has shown this at countless occasions in the past and we are committed to the positive values found in sport: performance and passion, teamwork and fair play.
His thoughts were echoed by Jochen Zeitz, chairman and CEO of PUMA who said:
We are uniting on this day as a commitment to Peace day. Our common goal' being that' our collaboration will help create awareness for the day. Kofi Anan once said that ‘individuals can make a difference and collectively we can make a major contribution’. I believe that is the case also for companies.
Today PUMA operates in 120 countries and employs more than 9,000 people worldwide. In football terms, they have produced one of most iconic boots of all time, the PUMA King XL and last season saw the stock of the v1.08 climb to an all-time high. Their newest boot, the v1.10 is due out on 26th September.
The adidas group, producer of the ground breaking Predator boot, has more than 38,000 employees and generated sales of 10.8bn in 2008. Amongst their ambassadors are the likes of Michael Ballack, Steven Gerrard and Lionel Messi. Their latest creation is the adidas F50i.