Puma Signs Shoe Deal With Mario Balotelli, Who Unveiled New Boots Sunday
Puma has signed up Italian striker Mario Balotelli to wear its football boots, part of the "German sportswear company's efforts to strengthen a footwear business that has lost out to rivals Nike and Adidas in recent years," according to REUTERS. Puma, which is 84%-owned by French luxury group Kering, "wants to sign up big-name players" ahead of next year's World Cup in Brazil. Puma "did not disclose the cost of its partnership with Balotelli" (REUTERS, 12/23). GOAL's Chris Davie reported Balotelli's new deal with Puma "got off to a noticeable start after the striker wore his own headline-inspired boots during the Milan derby on Sunday." The design "incorporates the biggest headlines" surrounding the Italy int'l, including "Why always me?" -- which was made famous after Balotelli "struck in Manchester City's 6-1 win" over ManU in '11 (GOAL, 12/23).
BALOTELLI ENDS BLACKOUT: In N.Y., Jack Bell reported Balotelli had "gone a few weeks" wearing cleats that were "blacked out as his representatives went about the business of negotiating a new shoe sponsorship deal" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/23). In London, Alex Richards reported Puma has "long been considered major players in the sports apparel industry, but in recent times have fallen a distant third behind Nike and Adidas." Footwear sales fell 7.5% in the first nine months of '13, and Balotelli "will be a key man in their attempt to close the gap" (DAILY MIRROR, 12/23). Puma's family of star players and athletes includes Usain Bolt, Man City's Sergio Aguero, FC Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas, Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus, Radamel Falcao of Ligue 1 side Monaco and golfer Rickie Fowler (SportMondo).