Portland Thorns wear the Nike Swoosh

Portland Thorns wear the Nike Swoosh

March 26–As the first images emerged in recent days of practice sessions by the area’s newest professional sports franchise, the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League, close observers noted something on the athletes’ shirts, shorts, socks and pullovers: Swooshes. Nike’s symbol was all over the place.

That’s noteworthy because Nike’s biggest rival, Adidas, has long held the apparel contract for Major League Soccer, the NWSL’s sibling circuit

But NWSL spokesman Patrick Donnelly said it was too soon to draw conclusions about the Swoosh parade.

“There are still details to be finalized,” Donnelly said Tuesday from the league office in Chicago, declining to be more specific.

A Thorns spokesman referred questions about the matter to the league office.

Nike spokeswoman Mary Remuzzi said no one at the Oregon company was available to comment.

Adidas, which has its North American headquarters in Portland, and Nike compete across the globe over sponsorships of professional soccer leagues, teams and national federations. To a lesser extent, other brands also compete for the same contracts. Players work their own deals with brands, primarily for shoes.

In the United States, Adidas and Major League Soccer announced an agreement in 2004 to make the Germany-based company the official athletic sponsor and product supplier, outfitting all league teams and supplying the league’s official match ball. In 2010, Adidas and MLS, which includes the Portland Timbers and 18 other teams, extended their partnership through 2018.

Nike is the official sponsor of the U.S. Soccer Federation, which includes the men’s and women’s national teams.

The eight-team National Women’s Soccer League gets underway April 13 when the Thorns play FC Kansas City in Kansas City. The Thorns first home game is April 21 against Seattle Reign FC.

— Allan Brettman; twitter.com/abrettman

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