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‘Game-changer’ Nike swoops in for long-term Hegerberg deal

(Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images)

Women’s football star Ada Hegerberg has signed a long-term endorsement contract with sporting goods giant Nike in a switch from rival sports brand Puma.

The Norwegian, who plays club football at Oympique Lyonnais, has signed a contract spanning at least 10 years, according to the A&V Sports agency, which represents the player.

The deal is reportedly worth more than €1m ($1.1m) over the term to the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner.

“This is a historic contract and a real commitment to both Ada and women’s football,” Hegerberg’s agent Victor Bernard told the French news agency AFP.

Bernard is the co-founder and managing partner at Paris-based A&V Sports and is responsible for maintaining the agency’s relationships with Nike, adidas and Puma.

Hegerberg confirmed the deal on her social networks, posting an image of the Nike swoosh with the words “Just did it”.

“For me personally, this is a ground-breaking step in my career,” she said. “I feel like Nike has inspired millions of people in sports, and they’re kind of the game-changer in sports [and] when it comes to lifting women in sports… hopefully this partnership can write history again back on the pitch when I’m back again.”

The deal will come as a blow to Puma, which has developed a women-specific product strategy in recent years that has impacted positively on the brand’s bottom line.

Johan Adamsson, head of sports marketing for team sports at Puma, told SportBusiness in September 2018 that the brand felt it was “important to refocus on women”. He added: “The one challenge we discovered was that it was very difficult to find a female sports athlete that was globally relevant.”

Read this: Puma steps up revenue pace, targets high-end clubs

This situation has arguably changed with the success of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France – where Hegerberg was absent because of a dispute with her home federation over its treatment of women’s football – and the fame of US player Megan Rapinoe, who has led efforts to reduce the pay disparity between men’s and women’s players in the US national teams.

As kit supplier to the US team, the Rapinoe-endorsed Nike also ran advertising campaigns supporting the US women’s national soccer team in its demand for equal pay.

Read this: USWNT vows to fight on after suffering major legal blow in battle for equal pay

The increase in value of women’s football should also be represented by the size of deals made at federation level.

In December 2018, Visa became the first brand to take up Uefa’s stand-alone women’s football offering, which includes rights to the Women’s Champions League and Women’s Euros. Uefa previously bundled its women’s event rights with the equivalent men’s Euro rights.

SportBusiness understands that Visa is paying more than €2.5m per year, on average, over the seven-season term, from 2018-19 to 2024-25.

That deal was followed by the addition of Nike as Official Match Ball Supplier to Uefa’s women’s football tournaments. SportBusiness understands the Nike deal is worth about €900,000 per year.