With the World Cup 2006 now history, sporting goods maker Adidas AG said it will not bask for long in the success — and buzz — that its Teamgeist ball generated.
The ball, designed solely for the World Cup and debuted in December 2005, has drawn plenty of comment, criticism and praise from players, coaches, pundits and customers for its unique design style and its effectiveness on the field.
But don’t expect to see its aerodynamic form and glossy, polyurethane-coated surface being kicked into the net at all of the world’s big league soccer games, except for the UEFA Champions league and on the fields of teams such as Bayern Munich, of the German league, and AC Milan.|
“This is actually an expansion of the contract that we already had with the Champions League,” Thomas Van Schaik, the company’s director of global football public relations said Monday. “We were the supplier, but now, as of this season every Champions league title game will be played with this ball.”
Other leagues will also sport Adidas-made balls, many incorporating the new design aspects of the Teamgeist, including the United State’s Major League Soccer.
“The Teamgeist is also the official matchball of Major League Soccer in the United States,” said Adidas spokesman Jan Runau. “So, yes, it is and should become the ball of choice on all levels of football.”
While the ball won’t be the exclusive product for other leagues worldwide, consumers can get their hands on it at most retail outlets that carry Adidas’ shoes, shirts and more.
But it’s not cheap.
Since its debut in December, Adidas has sold about 15 million of the Teamgeist — German for “team spirit” — 14-panel balls, at a price that has ranged from $113 to $138.
The figures beat the company’s initial expectations of 10 million sold and is more than twice the 6 million Fevernova balls it sold during the 2002 World Cup.
Van Schaik said Adidas, which is the exclusive supplier of balls for FIFA and the World Cup, is already working on a new design for the Euro 2008 championships, to be held in Austria and Switzerland, as well as one for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. It is also an official sponsor for the World Cup in 2010 and 2014. Those are expected to take elements from the Teamgeist design, but, naturally, he wouldn’t say what or how.
Players at the World Cup have given the Teamgeist ball a mixed reception. Some say its design makes it travel farther when kicked, while goalkeepers have grumbled that it is harder to stop.
Van Schaik made no apologies for that, either.
“The one thing that is crucial is that we develop products to enhance performance. You will not simply see a ball from Adidas that is faster or lighter. We want to create products help the best players play better,” he said.
Adidas has developed balls for every World Cup tournament since 1970, when it debuted the Telstar with its array of 12 black pentagons and 20 white hexagons — now an icon in the sporting world.
The company said the 2006 tournament should help provide more than 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in revenue from soccer-related products, including shoes and replica jerseys. In all of 2005, Adidas had 6.6 billion euros in sales, with 434 million euros in profit.