Nike, adidas and Puma eye South Korean market

Sportwear giants, Nike, Adidas and Puma are reportedly "betting their future" on winning the contract for sponsorship of the Korea Football Association's teams. "In a competition where the contenders show no reservations regarding either their pride or flexing their financial might, who will laugh last?" asked South Korea's The Hankyoreh newspaper. The current sponsorship agreement gives Nike first negotiation rights in renegotiations set to start in October, three months from the current contract's expiration date. However Kim Jin-hang, the business division manager of the KFA, said that "whoever is ready to invest more in the future of [South] Korean football will be selected as the sponsor. The door is open."

Since 1996, Nike has been the sponsor of the South Korea national football team since 1996, reportedly paying about 50 billion won (US$53 million) - 33 billion won in supplies and 17 billion in cash - between 2003 and 2007 alone. Over the past year Nike has also won the sponsorship rights to football in most of South East Asia and India. Adidas, which last year scored sponsorship contracts with the national football teams of Japan (reportedly 15 billion Yen - US$128 million - over eight years) and China has been candid about its ambitions to fortify its position in North East Asia. The influence of Puma in Asia has been heavily tilted towards the west, particuarly Arab countries, headlined by Saudi Arabia, as well as Iran. "We have enough cash at the corporate headquarters in Germany, and are actively pursuing the sponsorship opportunity with Korean National Football Team, " Kim Dong-uk, the sports marketing manager of Puma Korea, commented.