Nike boots Adidas in deal with French

PARIS — The French national soccer team will end its long sponsorship deal with Adidas in 2011 in favor of a $506 million contract with Nike.

The French soccer federation said Friday the American sports equipment firm outbid Adidas and French company Airness, promising to pay $63.4 million per year until the end of the 2017-2018 season. The federation will get about half that amount in the final year.

Adidas has sponsored the national team, called Les Bleus, since 1972.

Nike, which has its headquarters in Beaverton, has made a major push into the world's most popular sport, vowing to become soccer's top brand by the next World Cup.

It recently bought out England's Umbro PLC for $566 million in a deal expected to be approved next month. Umbro's soccer apparel, footwear and equipment is sold in more than 90 countries and supplies uniforms to the national teams of England, Ireland, Sweden and Norway, six English Premier League teams and more than 100 other professional teams globally.

The French soccer federation said it switched suppliers on the bid alone.

"For French soccer and those who will come after us, the federal council owed itself to go with the highest bidder," said Jacques Lambert, director general of the French soccer federation.

A higher bid has not always been enough for Nike.

German soccer authorities rejected a $680 million offer from Nike and extended its contract with Adidas at roughly half the value last year. Adidas is a German company.

Les Bleus will wear Adidas gear at this year's European Championship and at the 2010 World Cup if it qualifies.

Nike shares rose 8 cents to $60.40 Friday.

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