Competition is inherent in football – the game itself is based on it, and off the pitch there’s always talk of boardroom battles, bidding wars and mind games.

Away from the clubs themselves, the competition has been equally fierce between the sports brands; sponsorship deals on players, clubs, tournaments and even leagues are all opportunities for product placement by companies with unfathomable sums of money at their command.

last brand standing adidas euro 2008

Adias marketing at Euro 08

Competitions however have an candid characteristic: they have winners. I’ve grown up on the Nike Vs. Adidas competition, always assuming that both would always be there – but what if one of them achieved the impossible – what if one of them had complete market domination?

In one corner Adidas has an excellent reputation, their heritage is unrivalled (even involving a family feud with Puma!) and shows it in boots like the Copa Mundial and Samba, but they’re no slackers when it comes to research and development either, with their Predator range being arguably the most continuously innovative pair of boots on the market.

last brand standing copa mundial

The Adidas Copa Mundial

However Adidas has always been something of the underdogs in this battle as Nike has always been (in terms of yearly profit) the ‘bigger company’. As such, Adidas seem to have developed a very defensive strategy; for example it’s not enough to have sponsorship rights to every World Cup since 1994 and through to 2014, but very recently have begun to pay extra to have no Nike adverts played whatsoever during the 64 games broadcast in the English language.

That’s not to say Adidas aren’t capable of taking the initiative, they’ve taken the fight to Nike on their own turf by becoming the official supplier to the MLS, providing all team kits, balls, referee uniforms and equipment. Also, in August 2005, Adidas bought Reebok, meaning that at the time, they were able to bring their business sales figures the closest to Nike’s that they’d ever been.

last branding standing mlslast brand standing red bull new york

Adidas designed MLS shirts for Red Bull New York

In the other corner Nike; in the last decade or so have enjoyed a great share of the football boots and equipment market. Thanks to some excellent individual player sponsorship, the public in general are confident of the quality of Nike’s boots. However, the Nike name isn’t as ‘in your face’ as the Adidas brand, with Nike sponsoring far less of Europe’s major tournaments. Only match ball sponsorship in the English Premier League and the UEFA Cup/Europa League springing to mind – so how have they managed a majority share?

Nike has really shone with clever marketing schemes; I’d be willing to bet that 90% of this site’s readership have watched Christiano Ronaldo race a Bugatti Veyron in his Mercurial Vapors or seen Ronaldinho rattle the Nou Camp crossbar with impossible precision thanks to his signature boots; and that’s the reason why Nike don’t necessarily need the sponsorship clout that Adidas flaunt whenever possible.

Last brand standing bugatti and ronaldo

Very expensive and totally ostentatious – the other one’s a Bugatti!

Not limited to the viral video plane, Nike have also matched Adidas in terms of growth – with Nike’s recent acquisition of Umbro (interestingly enough another Northern-English sports company) is an exciting statement of intent from the American company.

Realistically, both brands will continue in a long and prosperous fashion, but if you had to pick one – who do you think would come out on top – and why?

For once I’m going to come off the fence and say Nike – Adidas have had their financial pitfalls before (See: Bernard Tapie 1989 – 1993) which demonstrates they’re perhaps not as solid as they should be. In terms of products, Adidas are no longer the sole leaders in boot development like they were in 1990’s – Nike have stepped up their innovation recently with boots like the Superfly. Finally they’ve shown incredible creativity in the face of Adidas blocking a number of the conventional routes for advertising.

last brand standing superfly

Coming soon, the Black / Yellow Superfly

But what do you think? Are you impressed by Adidas’ strong-arm sponsorship policies? Or should we be looking at some of the smaller companies who still survive every year thanks to their business models? Drop us a comment and let us know your thoughts!

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  1. says: Aussie Lad

    I know this sounds bias, but adidas have better quality that Nike.
    That being said, Nike would win, their marketing is light years ahead of the rest, go to any young sunday league game, and you will see dozens upon dozens of vapors being worn.
    The more experienced players don’t go for these new boots, but the youth are, which will pave a road of more and more of a imbalace between Nike and adidas.

  2. says: Jeevan J

    I feel that nike unfairly gets a label of being inferior quality. I understand the purists who staunchly hold that synthetic materials are useless compared to kangaroo leather etc., but the synthetic shoe is a great concept for athletes with narrow feet for which leather is not an option b/c it stretches out. Also, Nike has leather options, i.e., Lasers and air legends. The air legends are arguably much more comfortable and durable than any adidas boot.

    Nike are light years ahead and will continue to progress ahead of adidas but as long as adidas have the sponsorships on the major tournaments, they will continue to have a notable hold in the industry. I’m curious to see if Nike ever takes a shot at the world cup…if they do, it would essentially devastate adidas because their players are not of the same calibre as the nike players except gerrard and a few others.

  3. says: spike acosta

    another thought provoking article. hats off to you kyle.

    better innovation – nike
    better boots – adidas

    but neither of this matters. what matters is:

    better marketing – nike

    they could make crap and people will still buy it. im not saying that they do, but most of what they offer as innovations (some, but not all) are just gimmicks that they know how to sell. and that translates to a bigger share of the market, thus a having a better chance of surviving the war.

  4. says: kevin

    Well I prefer nike. Adiddas were the big thing back in the day but im predicting that all that will remain of adidda will be the predators.
    Air legends in my opinion are the best boots of all time, even tough I wear vapors.>:\haha
    Nike, make a move on the big tournaments and get rid of adiddas already..plzzz..

  5. says: elitepacers

    Players are not of the same calibre?! Kaka, Messi, Gerrard, Ballack, Lampard, BECKHAM (greatest marketing tool on the planet?)…I could go on. Its not the players that make the marketing, although it does help. Nike has been more influential with their viral marketing in recent years but adidas continues to sponsor the big tournaments. For me its a toss up. Both brands produce quality boots, synthetic and leather. Nike has attempted to compete with the adidas predator with their laser line and adidas has tried to compete with the vapor line with the F50s. Personally, I can’t stand synthetic boots but thats besides the point. For me, the nike legends are unbeatable for the price.

  6. says: Paulie Q

    Adidas products are much more reliable and better. My cousins Vapor IVs (The so called best boot on the market) tore up within 10 months. And for Jeevan J, Gerrard, Kaka, Messi, and Lampard? Those are arguably the worlds best footballers in the world…

    1. says: Nino Esile

      Ten months? you really expect any boot to last that long? How often do you play, how hard do you play. If I get a season out a pair I’m happy.

  7. says: Jean Piers

    Very good post.

    I tend to favour adidas – mostly as my club Liverpool are sponsored by adidas. I have never had a problem with them..


  8. says: Spongebob

    Adidas make better boots. Nike have made a lot because of their cheaper options of flash boots and Christiano Ronaldo (Who is no longer the best player in the world). Most of nikes money is made from selling low-medium priced boots. When you look at top level boots its:
    f50 vs Mercural vapor
    Predator powerswerve vs T90 laser
    and Adipure vs Air Legend.
    The aidas ones a better, but in the cheaper ones its:
    f10 vs murciral Veloci
    Predator Absoluto vs t90 shoot
    Adinova vs Nike Tiempo
    Nike wins in the cheap front
    Also there are Umbro Specialis and SX Valors. There are puma v-kon , king and v108 and lotto stadio, zhero gravity and a lot more cheaper ones.

    Another way to decide is by what players wear them



    Adidas are better Nike have more marketing

  9. says: d-man

    its simple . .. . . young players think nike are cool cause the tricks u see in the virals and on the pick
    for example i am a adidas man myself but my lil cousin was nike all day long sayin they r flashy n quick because thats all the young players know and beleive football is a flash quick sport but i sat him down with my ploshed world cups and copas also adipurs
    and showed him vidoes on youtube of zizu, becks, kaka, gerrad and lamps + pics of the boys from 1966!! thn i showed him my old vapors the cardon fibure blue + green boots n he sed they was tarty so ithink all adidas need to do is show that the history of football is adidas n get virals e.g made make a advert wher u hav some of the old gr8 that wore the boots against the nu players i think kids would love it and would bring adidas back to the world of cool and away from the phrase of my dad has thos boots

  10. says: justme

    Nike ofcourse

    Nike tiempo’s are so good. i love them.. I bought my tiempo 2,5 season ago (2 times practice and 1 match a week),,and they are still in good condition.

    I love the mercurials, especially the Black ones (european championship). Had to be my next boots, but dont think i can find them somewhere around here

    My adidas – 1/ 1,5 season, not longer

  11. says: 'Sota

    I know it’s just a comments page, but there is no one better brand. Nike and adidas happen to be the two biggest brands in the world of football because they have the budgets to develop the most technologically advanced boots in the world and pay for us all to watch it unfold.

    I’m openly a Nike guy, always have been. However, I think that the F50 is a better boot than the Vapor despite the Vapors vastly outselling F50s and V1.08s combined (at least in the shop I work in).

    I think the Predator has long been the most advanced and best boot on the market, although the Lasers have come to level terms and I believe share that title.

    What I believe are the greatest boots in the world are the Nike Legends, hands down far superior to the unstable feeling chassis of the adiPure.

    Oh, and Nike are also match ball suppliers to La Liga and Serie A in addition to the Premier League and UEFA Cup.

  12. says: Tyler

    Nike is just all a marketing ploy, it doesnt matter if they made the vapor out of clay people would still buy it because of its reputation. i never played in the vapor (except the K’s) because the pain wasnt worth the performance.. Adidas cleats are always comfortable and always perform extremely well. Vapors (very thin) and the new Laser’s (very wide) dont fit everyone’s fit correctly, while the Tunit, Predator and AdiPure seem to fit every foot pretty well. Nike is too futuristic and ridiculous when it comes to their designs. Honestly take a look at the Laser II, its a ridiculous looking boot and the Vapor’s look like space shoes. Nike doesn’t have the same class as Adidas.

    But all in all the Reebok Valde Pro is the best boot out in the world right now and if you haven’t worn it, don’t disagree because its a Predator upper and Nike Legend Studs, the best combination possible. I high recommend them.

  13. says: Barriecuda

    It’s a tough contest. Adidas strong-arms the competition out of the market in a lot of areas, and notably, seems to push hard in areas where Nike doesn’t bother whatsoever (Canada is completely Adidas dominated for example – Nike is an afterthought). I think anybody who feels that Nike is so successful purely based on marketing is foolish. Their Air Legend cleats are fantastic, and whether or not you like the look or the fit of them, the Vapors and Laser’s are respectable boots in their own right. Admittedly however, Adidas are grittier I feel, and will last you longer.

    Overall it really comes down to what boots you prefer, your personal brand loyalty, and which players in the world you like. If you’re a CR7 fan for example, you’re going to buy Nike’s, lets be honest. Messi and Gerrard followers probably will be the F30/F50 and PowerSwerves.

    One thing that Nike deserves credit for is their selective strategies when it comes to marketing. They sponsor far fewer teams than Adidas, but they pick their battles wisely; Man United, Arsenal, Barcelona, and Inter Milan are premier teams in premier markets, expanding Nike’s appeal tenfold. They match their marketing angles with the clubs that they sponsor, and overall present a very strong brand image that represents a ‘package’ of qualities. The Sparq line is also another great step for Nike. They do a lot well and are earning their growing reputation based on both the quality of their product and their strong management. Marketing is just one facet of their success.

  14. says: Klm

    I believe that nikes vapor can’t be beat. I have never had any blisters with them and they haven’t fallen apart. I have had the copas, the first adipures, f50s, and multiple predators and none of them were as good as the vapors. All of the predators have ripped in the same spot. I can’t shoot with as much power with kleather and the f50s were very uncomfortable. I will never buy any more adidas cleats.

    But when it comes to balls adidas makes the best. They have a good touch aren’t sticky have amazing curve hold air and don’t fall apart. Nike balls pretty much suck campared to adidas.

  15. says: anderson sennas

    a nike e a melhor marca de material esportivo do mundo a nike e a melhor a the best nike. c.ronaldo,f.torres,wayney rooney, pato,robinho, total90 mercurial vapor 5

  16. says: Jp04

    I wear nike and I have worn adidas before. Adidas are not better quality by the way. I have never seen a pair of legends, vapors, or lasers break. I have seen predators separate at the toe just 2 weeks after they were bought. The first pair of adipures were comfy but the insole would snap on the inside. I saw that happen to about 5 pairs of them. I have also seen the f50.8 rip where the heel cup attaches to the shoe. Adidas does not have better quality whatsoever.

  17. says: adrian

    boots, they are all the same. as long as they are for football its all good. Why all the drama about which one is better? It would be better if we could all play barefoot, no need of shoes. save all the worries football boots bring about!

  18. says: ray

    Adidas vs. Nike is certainly “The battle for leadership” in the sport industry.The recent acquisition of Reebok by Adidas is a good example for this.
    As indicated by Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer, “the deal represents a major strategic milestone for the group. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to combine two of the most respected and well-known companies in the worldwide sporting goods industry …However, even though this deal represents a consolidation between the number 2 (Adidas) and the number 3 (Reebok) on the sporting goods market, the combined company remains way behind the leader Nike… will Adidas be able to become the leader on its market after the acquisition of Reebok? visit

  19. says: kevin

    adidas need wider cleats, as I wear lasers for their wide fit…generating sales for nike, whilde adidas have no wide fitting boot to sway me

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