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FIFA World Cup jersey sponsorships (or national team kit partnerships) are big business. The competition is as fierce among the major sports brands off the field as it is for the national teams that compete on the field every four years.

The reward for the winning brands is being able to provide the national team soccer kit with their brand logo displayed usually over the right chest on the jersey, the left leg of the shorts, as well as on the socks in addition to other officially licensed team apparel.

And more importantly it allows the brand to market and sell the team’s authentic and replica soccer jerseys to fans around the world.

It’s a $1 billion industry that all got started in 1974.

adidas was the first brand to put their stamp (or brand logo) on the World Cup and was the dominant national team sponsor for decades. The 3-Stripes sponsored 10 of the 16 national teams at the 1974 FIFA World Cup in Germany and used it as their springboard to dominate the market for decades.

The timing could not have been better for the German-based company with the World Cup being held in their backyard and since most players wore adidas soccer cleats the move to providing team jerseys made sense.

The 1974 World Cup was just the start for adidas’ dominance in World Cup jersey sponsorships. The 3-Stripes provided the national team soccer kits for 50% or more of the teams at each World Cup through Italia 1990. adidas continued to provide more national teams with their World Cup kits until, ironically, the tournament returned to Germany in 2006 when Puma and Nike both outfitted more teams.

 

World Cup Jersey Sponsors from 1974 to 2018

 

In all adidas has been the jersey sponsor for 127 teams since the 1974 World Cup. Nike is a distant second with 50 national team outfitted. This is impressive, however, considering the swoosh only got in the game at the 1998 World Cup.

Puma is in third with 44 teams.

Since the 1974 tournament, Umbro has had one or more teams at every tournament except for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. They have sponsored 22 teams over the course of the tournament history with the home nations of England and Scotland their primary sponsored nations.

The other brands to get in the game at the World Cup are: Lotto (9), Le Coq Sportif (7), Hummel (4), Joma (4), Reebok (4), Diadora (3), Kappa (3), Marathon (3), Topper (3), Uhlsport (3), Admiral (2), New Balance (2), Rapido (2), Aba Sport (1), Asics (1), Atletico (1), Brooks Sport (1), Burrda Sport (1), Erima (1), Errea (1), Legea (1), Levi’s (1), Mitre (1), Penalty (1), Raihna (1), Shamil (1), Sonitex (1), Weekend (1).

13 teams have had remained true to a traditional look with unbranded jerseys since 1974.

 

The technical Directors for the World Cup winners since 1974

 

With so many teams wearing the adidas logo, it should come as no surprise that adidas has been the technical sponsor for the most World Cup winning teams since 1974. adidas has sponsored 5 World Cup winning sides: Germany – 2014, Spain – 2010, France – 1998, West Germany – 1990, and Argentina – 1978.

2 teams have won the World Cup with no sponsor logo on their jersey over that period; Italy – 1982 and West Germany – 1974.

Surprisingly, Nike has only sponsored 1 World Cup winning side, Brazil in 2002. Puma, Umbro, and Le Coq Sportif all have 1 sponsored World Cup winner as well in Italy – 2006, Brazil – 1994, and Argentina – 1986.

Who will win the battle to be the sponsor of this year’s World Cup winning side?

Mexico has appeared in the most brands over the years. El Tri Colors World Cup jersey has been provided by 6 brands (Levi’s, Adidas, Umbro, Aba Sport, Atletica, and Nike). Three of these were one-and-done appearances for that brand.

Belgium is not far behind with five sponsors (Admiral, Adidas, Diadora, Nike, and Burda Sport) and Brazil has shown up to the quadrennial event in the threads of four different brands (Adidas, Topper, Umbro, and Nike).

Hummel has appeared at 4 World Cups and all when sponsoring Denmark. The Danish company was the national team sponsor from 1926-2004 and again from 2016-present. They were the team jersey for the Red-White at the 1986, 1998, 2002 World Cups and will return this summer at Russia 2018.

3 other brands have only sponsored 1 national team at the World Cup. Topper was Brazil’s sponsor for the 1982, 1986, and 1990 World Cups. Sadly for the South American brand, Brazil never won the World Cup while they were the jersey sponsor.

Marathon’s 3 appearances (2002, 2006, 2014) have all been with Ecuador and Rapido’s 2 appearances (1990, 1994) were with South Korea.

 

2018 FIFA World Cup – Russia

 

World Cup 2018 jersey sponsors

 

The on-going battle to sponsor a World Cup team was seen earlier this year when Senegal dumped Romai Sports, their sponsor through World Cup qualifying, and replaced them with Puma. The deal with the United Arab Emirates Romai was ‘disastrous’ according to those close to the federation and the timing could not have been better for Puma to re-sign the Lions of Teranga.

adidas reclaimed their position at the top of the table with 12 teams headed to Russia and are in good position to ‘win’ the tournament with arguably the strongest line-up of teams.

Related: 2018 FIFA World Cup Jersey Sponsors

Nike is a close second and where close to having the most teams in Russia only for 3 of their top teams, the USA, Netherlands, and Chile, all to fail to qualify.

 

2018 World Cup Jersey Sponsors

 

adidas (12) – Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Egypt, Germany, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, Spain, Sweden
Nike (10) – Australia, Brazil, Croatia, England, France, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Korea
Puma (3) – Senegal, Switzerland, Uruguay
New Balance (2) – Costa Rica, Panama
Umbro (2) – Peru, Serbia
Errea (1) – Iceland
Hummel (1) – Denmark
Uhlsport (1) – Tunisia

 

2014 FIFA World Cup – Brazil

 

Germany won the 2014 World Cup wearing adidas soccer jerseys

 

Nike was the jersey sponsorship leader for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with 10 teams sponsored although some believe adidas won the marketing battle. The 3-Stripes sponsored 9 teams but that included both finalists, Germany and Argentina – who both defeated Nike teams in the semifinals.

Related: Who Won the 2014 FIFA World Cup?

Lotto, however, may have gotten the most bang for their buck. They only sponsored 1 national team, Costa Rica, but the Ticos were one of the brightest teams and a favorite among fans advancing to the quarterfinals.

 

2014 World Cup Jersey Sponsors

 

Nike (10) – Australia, Brazil, Croatia, England, France, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, South Korea, USA.
adidas (9) – Argentina, Bosnia, Colombia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Spain.
Puma (8) – Algeria, Cameroon, Chile, Ghana, Italy, Ivory Coast, Switzerland, Uruguay.
Lotto (1) – Costa Rica
Burrda Sport (1) – Belgium
Marathon (1) – Ecuador
Joma (1) – Honduras
Uhlsport (1) – Iran

 

2010 FIFA World Cup – South Africa

 

Spain won the 2010 World Cup wearing adidas soccer uniforms

 

adidas regained their foothold as the dominant brand at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the first to be hosted on the African continent, after running a distant 3rd 4-years earlier.

South Africa may have been a return to the top for adidas but it was the end of an era for Umbro. The famous Double Diamond’s, who outfitted 15 of the 16 teams at the 1966 FIFA World Cup BUT without brand logos, run as England’s football jersey sponsor came to an end. The only time the Three Lions had previously worn a non-Umbro jersey at the World Cup was in 1982.

It was a classic final with 2 teams, Spain and the Netherlands, looking for their first title. adidas’ sponsored Spain had the last laugh defeating Nike sponsored Netherlands in extra time.

 

2010 World Cup Jersey Sponsors

 

adidas (12) – Argentina, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Paraguay, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain.
Nike (9) – Australia, Brazil, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, South Korea, USA.
Puma (7) – Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Italy, Ivory Coast, Switzerland, Uruguay.
Umbro (1) – England
Joma (1) – Honduras
Legea (1) – North Korea
Brooks Sports (1) – Chile

 

2006 FIFA World Cup – Germany

 

Italy won the 2006 World Cup wearing Puma soccer kits

 

Germany was a tournament of firsts. It was the first time that every team featured a brand logo on their soccer kit and was the first time since the 1974 tournament that adidas did not sponsor the most teams.

Germany-based Puma, adidas longtime rival, led the way with 12 teams followed by Nike with 8 and adidas in a distant 3rd with only 6 teams. It was the fewest teams that adidas have ever sponsored at the quadrennial tournament.

Despite only having 6 teams, adidas had quality and featured 2 of the 4 semifinalists in France and Germany. Puma won the event, with Italy, claiming their 4th title with a win over France in the final.

 

2006 World Cup Jersey Sponsors

 

Puma (12) – Italy, Iran, Paraguay, Ghana, Angola, Ivory Coast, Switzerland, Togo, Czech Republic, Poland, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia.
Nike (8) – Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Croatia, Portugal, Netherlands, South Korea, USA.
adidas (6) – Argentina, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Umbro (2) – England, Sweden.
Lotto (2) – Ukraine, Serbia
Marathon (1) – Ecuador
Joma (1) – Costa Rica

 

2002 FIFA World Cup – South Korea and Japan

 

Brazil won the 2002 World Cup with Nike. It was the first Nike jersey to win the World Cup

 

For the 2nd consecutive tournament a record 11 brands were represented at the World Cup finals.

And it was the first time that Italy wore a brand logo on their jersey at the World Cup. The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) did not allow logos to appear on their jersey, much to the chagrin of previous sponsors like Diadora and Nike, prior to the 2002 tournament. Kappa was the sponsor in South Korea and Japan but they had to settle for their logos being placed on the sleeves and not on the right chest.

It was the first time that Nike sponsored the World Cup winners with Brazil taking the title over Germany. For Brazil it was their record 5th title.

 

2002 World Cup Jersey Sponsors

 

adidas (10) – Argentina, China, France, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey.
Nike (8) – Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Nigeria, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, USA.
Puma (4) – Cameroon, Poland, Paraguay, Tunisia
Umbro (2) – England, Ireland
Atletica (1) – Mexico
Hummel (1) – Denmark
Joma (1) – Costa Rica
Kappa (1) – Italy
Le Coq Sportif (1) – Senegal
Marathon (1) – Ecuador
Uhlsport (1) – Slovenia
No Brand (1) – Uruguay

 

1998 FIFA World Cup – France

 

France won the 1998 World Cup wearing adidas soccer kits

 

The face of the game (or the jerseys the teams wore) changed in France. For the first time, the Nike swoosh took part as a jersey sponsor at the tournament. Nike sponsored 5 teams in France.

The tournament also featured a record 11 brands sponsoring the 32 national teams. This trend was continued 4 years later.

The final featured an adidas vs Nike pairing with France facing Brazil. Les Bleus came out on top.

But it was only the first battle in a long war between the brands to own the World Cup.

 

1998 World Cup Jersey Sponsors

 

Adidas (7) – Argentina, France, Germany, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Yugoslavia
Nike (5) – Brazil, Netherlands, Nigeria, South Korea, USA
Puma (5) – Austria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Iran, Morocco
Umbro (3) – England, Scotland, Norway
Kappa (2) – Jamaica, South Africa
Lotto (2) – Croatia, Tunisia
Aba Sport (1) – Mexico
Asics (1) – Japan
Diadora (1) – Belgium
Hummel (1) – Denmark
No Brand (1) – Italy

 

1994 FIFA World Cup- USA

 

Brazil won the 1994 World Cup wearing Umbro Kits.

 

Despite not having a professional outdoor league and to the dismay of some pundits, the FIFA World Cup landed in the U.S.A. in 1994.

The tournament changed the game in the U.S. with huge increase in participation and investment in the sport.

And it was the spark that led to changing the look of the game.

Nike had their first real taste of the beautiful game when the U.S. hosted. The swoosh was the cleat sponsor for 8 of Brazil’s World Cup winning side. The players wore the new Nike Tiempo Premier soccer cleat but Nike chairman and co-founder Phil Knight had his sights set on sponsoring the Brazilian team jersey.

He achieved that goal and by the 2014 World Cup Nike sponsored the most teams in Brazil.

 

1994 World Cup Jersey Sponsors

 

adidas (10) – Argentina, Bulgaria, Ireland, Germany, Nigeria, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Romania, USA
Umbro (4) – Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico
Lotto (3) – Morocco, Netherlands, Switzerland
Diadora (2) – Belgium, Greece
Reebok (1) – Russia
Mitre (1) – Cameroon
Rapido (1) – South Korea
Shamil (1) – Saudi Arabia
No Brand (1) – Italy

 

1990 FIFA World Cup – Italia

 

West Germany won the 1990 World Cup in adidas kits. The last World Cup winning jersey to feature the adidas trefoil

 

The 1990 World Cup final was an all adidas battle between West Germany and Argentina. With an all-time high of 15 teams sponsored by the 3-stripes it probably was not so surprising they outfitted the finalists.

After seeing hints of more bold patterns and colors in the 1980’s, the 1990 World Cup and many of the jerseys continued this pattern of pushing away from a purely traditional design. Germany put their stamp on the trend wearing a bold pattern on their jersey for the first time and winning the title. Die Mannschaft’s 2018 jersey design is inspired by the look from 1990.

It was also the end of an era for adidas.  The German-based company’s famous Trefoil logo was used on jerseys for the last time.  It was replaced by the adidas workmark logo used on jerseys in 1994.  That logo was quickly replaced by the adidas Performance logo starting with the 1998 World Cup.

Related: adidas’ Iconic Logos from Trefoil to Performance

 

1990 World Cup Jersey Sponsors

 

Adidas (15) – Argentina, Belgium, Cameroon, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Ireland, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Soviet Union, UAE, USA, West Germany, Yugoslavia
Umbro (2) – England, Scotland
Puma (2) – Austria, Uruguay
Lotto (1) – Costa Rica
Le Coq Sportif (1) – Spain
Rapido (1) – South Korea
Topper (1) – Brazil
No Brand (1) – Italy

 

1986 FIFA World Cup – Mexico

 

Argentina wore Le Coq Sportif jerseys at the 1986 World Cup.

 

Mexico became the first nation to host a second World Cup when the tournament returned in 1986. Mexico replace Colombia, who was originally selected as host but were unable to due to economic concerns.

Le Coq Sportif became the first brand other than adidas to have their sponsorship logo on the winning team’s jersey when Argentina hoists the trophy in Mexico City. They are arguably the only non-major brand to win a World Cup.

The sponsorship demands to provide jerseys, however, were still in their infancy. With a concern for the heat in the quarterfinal against England, Argentina coach Carlos Bilardo had an assistant go search local markets to find a lightweight jersey to replace their all-cotton standard away jersey. The Argentina national team crest, Le Coq Sportif logo, and numbers were hastily applied to the jersey. Argentina went on to win the game against England in an all-time classic with Maradona’s Hand of God goal and his march through the Three Lions defense to score one of the best goals in World Cup history.

 

1986 World Cup Jersey Sponsors

 

Adidas (13) – Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Hungary, Iraq, Mexico, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Soviet Union, West Germany
Le Coq Sportif (3) – Argentina, Uruguay, Spain
Umbro (2) – England, Scotland
No Brand (2) – Algeria, Italy
Hummel (1) – Denmark
Topper (1) – Brazil
Raihna (1) – Paraguay
Weekend (1) – South Korea

 

1982 FIFA World Cup – Spain

 

Italy wore an unbranded soccer uniform when they won the 1982 World Cup

 

The brands were in on the new game with 8 brands represented at the 1982 World Cup. They still were still holding on to the past to some extent with Brazil’s technical sponsor Topper featuring their logo on the jersey sleeve rather than the right chest.

And this was the last World Cup winner not to feature a brand on their jersey.

Italy in their unbranded jersey took home the title over adidas West Germany. The jersey was made by Le Coq Sportif but the brand would have to wait 4 years to celebrate on the jersey on a World Cup winner.

 

1982 World Cup Jersey Sponsors

 

Adidas (13) – Chile, Czechoslovakia, El Salvador, France, Honduras, Hungary, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Poland, Soviet Union, Spain, West Germany, Yugoslavia
Le Coq Sportif (2) – Argentina, Cameroon
Admiral (2) – England, Belgium
Puma (2) – Austria, Kuwait
Umbro (1) – Scotland
Topper (1) – Brazil
Sonitex (1) – Algeria
Penalty (1) – Peru
No Brand (1) – Italy

 

1978 FIFA World Cup – Argentina

 

Argentina wore the first World Cup winning jersey to feature a brand logo when they won the 1978 World Cup

 

The trend started to heat up when the World Cup headed to Argentina. Club teams around the world were starting to promote the brand logo on their team kits so it was only time before national teams followed suit.

After only 2 sponsors in 1974, the 1978 World Cup had 5 brands represented. There have never been fewer than 5 brands represented since this tournament.

adidas became the first brand to have their logo on the winning jersey after Argentina won wearing the 3-stripes over adidas wearing Netherlands.  The brand logo was almost an afterthought as it was still small compared to the national team crest.

 

1978 World Cup Jersey Sponsors

 

adidas (10) – Argentina, Brazil, France, Hungary, Iran, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Sweden, Tunisia
Puma (1) – Austria
Umbro (1) – Scotland
Erima (1) – West Germany
Levi’s (1) – Mexico
No Brand (2) – Italy, Spain

 

1974 FIFA World Cup – West Germany

 

Germany won the 1974 World Cup wearing an unbranded jersey.

 

It should come as no big surprise that the first tournament where national teams started to place sponsor logos on the outside of their jersey had the fewest brands with only 2, adidas and Umbro.

West Germany, wearing an unbranded adidas jersey, defeated adidas wearing Netherlands in the final.

 

Johann Cruyff refused to wear the adidas 3-stripes on his jersey as he was sponsored by Puma

 

The brands clearly did not have the upper hand as they do today. The Netherlands’ top player, Johan Cruyff, who wore Puma soccer cleats refused to wear the 3-stripes detail on the shoulders and down the sleeve. Cruyff converted his jersey to include only 2 stripes.

 

1974 World Cup Jersey Sponsors

 

adidas (10) – Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile, Haiti, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Uruguay, Yugoslavia, Zaire
Umbro (2) – Australia, Scotland
No Brand (4) – Brazil, East Germany, Italy, West Germany

 

1950 FIFA World Cup – 1970 FIFA World Cup

 

Prior to the 1974 World Cup, national soccer teams had jerseys provided by the major brands of the day. These were frequently locally sourced. It was just an era before the onset of ever present marketing so the brands logo was not placed on the outside of the jersey.

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