On 10 July, Bloomberg Businessweek's Brendan Greely issued a "Spoiler Alert" by claiming that Germany was already the winner of Sunday's 2014 FIFA World Cup Final. Whether the team would actually win the trophy or lose, no matter, for the German sports firm Adidas is the sponsor of both the German team (since 1954) and their rivals from Argentina. The additional bonus is that "...everyone will be kicking at Adidas' ball", the one which has been used throughout the tournament.
Along with their main sportswear rival, the American firm Nike, the pair account for about 70 per cent of the logos appearing on the apparel of professional soccer players in a football market worth $17 billion per year but the battle for the winning logo on the TV screens of the world now belongs to Adidas.
In promoting both finalists, Adidas' marketing strategy has come up trumps, helped by the fact that the face of most of their World Cup advertising campaign was Argentina's star player Lionel Messi, a Spanish citizen since 2005 and who plays as a forward striker for FC Barcelona.
Although Nike sponsored the Netherlands, who played for and won third place against the host nation in Brasília, their marketing ploy was to centre more on individual players appearing in their advertising promotions. Big names, like Ronaldo for Portugal; Neymar for Brazil; and our own Wayne Rooney – but, alas, they and their teams have all fallen.
Adidas has sponsored FIFA since 1970. On 08 June 2014, the company became FIFA's second sponsor, after Japan's Sony, to express its grave concerns over Qatar winning the bid for the 2022 World Cup. As a "Primary Tier" sponsor of FIFA – over a four-year cycle such companies on average pay $100 million to be linked to the World Cup – Federation President, "Sepp" Blatter has little choice but to address this issue. For the moment however, that matter is on the back burner. More important from a marketing angle, Adidas' long association has in effect, bought the German company the right to make the World Cup ball.
This year's official match ball is called the Brazuca, has a circumference of 69cm, weighs 437 grams and is made of six thermally bonded, polyurethane panels. It has been tested over a period of two years with special care having been taken to avoid the aerodynamic problems experienced in the 2010 World Cup. On 11 June, Forbes estimated that over 42 million soccer balls had been distributed all over the world. Should manage to cover Adidas' R&D then with a penny or two to spare.
Do the Germans furnish any further examples of "Vorsprung durch Technik" to borrow a universally popular Audi slogan? Indeed they do.
For the first time in the World Cup Finals, match officials used goal-line technology so that there could be no disputes as to whether or not the ball had crossed the line. The system used in Brazil is made by GoalControl GmbH, a company headquartered near Aachen, Germany and depends upon 14 high speed, high resolution cameras, seven directed at each of the goals. Don't expect any time soon for these to be rolled out by any but the wealthiest football clubs as each system costs €500,000.
Finally, Germany was guaranteed in the Final to be supported by both the Head of State and Head of Government. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on 9 July that she would travel to Brazil to support her national team in its attempt to win its fourth World Cup, Germany having won the trophy in 1954, 1974 and 1990. The announcement was made following Germany's utter humiliation of Brazil by beating the home side 7 - 1 on 8 July in Belo Horizonte.
Renowned for being a keen football supporter by her compatriots, the Chancellor told Berlin's media that she had watched every goal and:
"I agree with world opinion that it was a very good game...I think it almost deserves to be called historic". The Brazilians will concur though with not quite the same fond memories as the Germans.
Historic? Well, the game had a TV audience of 32.57 million, excluding the giant outside screens set up in a number of German cities.
Whilst Chancellor Merkel was telling reporters about her intention to be at the World Cup Final at Rio's Maracanã Stadium, Germany's President Joachim Gauck, confirmed that he too would accompany Frau Merkel to Rio de Janeiro to see the match at the Maracanã Stadium.
Germany's game against Argentina on 13 July was a close encounter. It was well worth the effort of Chancellor Merkel and President Gauck to attend and much to the relief of Brazil's 201 million people, the efforts of the "old enemy" Argentina, were thwarted.
Twenty-two-year-old Mario Götze, attacking midfielder for Bayern Munich was brought into the game late on as a substitute, scoring with an acute angled shot in the 113<sup>th minute, in overtime play, to make Germany the well-deserved 2014 FIFA World Cup winners.
Technical skill of the player, matched by expert goal line technology and not forgetting Adidas. Yes, one can definitely say it was Germany's tournament.