RFEF pulling the plug on long-term Adidas deal to seek new kit partner
The RFEF, the Spanish soccer federation, is controversially terminating its kit supply deal with Adidas, which was due to run until 2026, in order to seek a new partner in the sportswear field.
The German giant has been a supplier of Spain’s national teams since 1992, and the latest renewal, covering the men’s and women’s teams, and all age group sides, was agreed in September 2015.
However, the RFEF, which is now headed up by president Luis Rubiales, has been seeking to renegotiate the contract, which is valued at around €18 million ($20.1 million) per year, on the basis that it does not comply with its new integrity policy.
Adidas is considering legal action if its deal is indeed terminated.
In a statement on Monday, the RFEF said: “The conditions that were agreed upon when signed years ago do not meet the criteria of legality, transparency and fairness that the RFEF considers minimally acceptable.
"The RFEF will continue to comply with the agreement with Adidas until the date on which the contractual resolution takes effect.”
Adidas could now seek legal recourse, with the company saying: "Adidas and the RFEF have been together for more than 35 years, in which time the brand of the three stripes has been providing their best service and quality to the highest body of Spanish football.
"Both entities signed in 2015 the extension of the contract in force until December 31, 2026. The contract has been carried out by both parties amicably and there is no reason to justify the resolution that the RFEF intends.
"Adidas expresses its intention to keep the agreement signed unti the end of the agreed period and, if necessary, will take the necessary measures to defend its rights."
Spain's men's team won the World Cup, for the first time, in 2010 and the European Championships in both 2008 and 2012.
There have been reports that the RFEF has met with Inditex, the Spanish fashion retailed that owns the Zara brand, to discuss the possibility of a kit deal, and also made contact with Adidas’ German rival Puma.
The federation said on Monday that it started “a period of negotiations to secure a new sportswear technical supplier. All those brands of the sector that so decide will have the opportunity to contact the RFEF with the aim of being the next technical supplier of their national teams, championships, sports equipment, etc…
“After months of unsuccessful conversations with Adidas and reflecting the impossibility of an agreement, the RFEF begins from this precise moment the procedures for the hiring of a new technical brand. In the meantime and until a new contract begins in an executive manner, from this institution the commitments made to the clothing brand will be maintained."
Rubiales has sought to conduct a makeover of the RFEF since succeeding the long-serving Angel Maria Villar in an election last May.
Villar, formerly a senior Fifa and Uefa executive, was formally ousted from the helm of the national federation at the end of 2017 having been suspended for his role in a corruption scandal.
The new integrity policy has entailed Mediapro, the Spanish sports rights and production company, being excluded from the bidding process for rights to this weekend’s Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Valencia, which have been awarded to public-service broadcaster TVE in a deal worth around €3 million.
Mediapro has fought back, announcing yesterday that it had won an injunction from the commercial court in Madrid, ordering the RFEF to annul the concluded tender, and relaunch the process, allowing the Barcelona-based company to participate.
With just days until the final in Sevilla, the federation has defended its dealings, saying yesterday that it “has received no notification from any court that puts into question the contest and the result of the award.
“If in the course of the next few days, the RFEF receives any notification, the legal services of this organisation will analyse it with the aim of issuing a response as soon as possible.”
It added that it had awarded the rights to TVE on 10 May “after fulfilling all the terms and conditions of the public tender opened for that purpose, in accordance with the reports issued by the CNMC [Spanish competition regulator].”
Mediapro has said it will apply the same legal defence to prevent the RFEF also excluding it from a tender to provide video assistant referee services in Spain’s top two leagues from the 2019-20 to 2022-23 seasons.