RPT-Soccer-All change for Sweden team under new kit sponsors
By Philip O'Connor
STOCKHOLM Jan 30 (Reuters) - Sweden's friendly against Argentina in Stockholm next week is a dream game for soccer fans and a big day for kit sponsors Adidas as they take over supplying the Swedish FA from rivals Umbro.
"Having Argentina here with the best football player in the world, a home match with two teams in our jerseys, it can't get better than that," said Brian Grevy, Nordic managing director for Adidas, who are now the kit suppliers to both teams.
Grevy spoke to Reuters as the Swedish FA held a news conference at the sportswear manufacturer's Stockholm headquarters to announce the squad to face Lionel Messi and company next Wednesday.
The deal with Adidas fits in with the German manufacturer's sports marketing strategy which Grevy said was "literally to go out and have the biggest symbols. We may not have all of them but we always aim to have the biggest symbols.
"This is the biggest symbol you can have in Sweden and we want to be associated as market leader here in football with the biggest symbol.
"It is the foundation for our company. We are in for market leadership in football, wherever we play in the world."
Adidas and rivals Nike fight fiercely to see who can sign up the top teams and, despite Puma being readily identifiable with many African national teams and some other notable exceptions in club soccer, smaller suppliers are being squeezed out.
With Nike announcing in October 2012 that previous suppliers Umbro would be sold to Iconix Brand Group, Adidas took over the job of kitting out the Swedish FA on Jan. 1.
Swedish Football Association (SvFF) general secretary Mikael Santoft said the body took a pragmatic approach when it came to choosing a new supplier.
"Umbro is big but not as big as Adidas," he told Reuters. "But that's not the main issue - it's the brand name, the equipment and the money (that decide).
"It's a good contract - in the beginning it's five years, and it could be more than five years," Santoft said. "In our FA we don't change too often, 10 years is rather short-term in our minds."
Despite a long tender process, the FA and their new kit supplier faced a major logistical headache as the old contract ran out and Adidas took over.
"We have thousands and thousands of different items - from socks to bags to sweaters - so everything has to be changed in a very short space of time. We had Umbro until New Year's Eve, and then the day after it was Adidas," said Santoft.
Asked if it was easier to secure such high-profile friendlies as the Argentina game when both teams shared the same supplier, Santoft smiled.
"I wouldn't say that, but it certainly didn't make it more difficult."