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Category > History > Page Uploaded: 31/03/15

The "Pele Pact" between Adidas and PUMA

Pele, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is a Brazilian footballer who is widely regarded as the greatest player to play the game. Pele is the winner of three FIFA World Cups: 1958, 1962 and 1970. Pele scored over 1000 goals and played for two clubs: Santos and New York Cosmos.

An older pele at a press conference. An Older Pele. Pele at the 1970's world cup, wearing puma football boots. Pele at the 1970 World Cup.

Pele wore Puma football boots at the 1962 and 1966 FIFA World Cups. In 1970, the FIFA World Cup was held in Mexico - the first FIFA World Cup to be broadcast in colour - and sponsorship of footballers would prove crucial to the fortunes of boot manufacturers. Due to Pele being the most recognised and famous footballer at the tournament, it would be logical that every sports brand would desire him to wear their boots.

Adidas made it known to Puma that they would offer Pele an endorsement deal to wear their boots at the 1970 FIFA World Cup. Adidas and Puma were sports brands owned by brothers Adolf Dassler and Rudolf Dassler. Their sons, Armin Dassler (Rudolf Dassler's son) and Horst Dassler (Adolf Dassler's son), were employed by their fathers to market Adidas and Puma at the 1970 FIFA World Cup.

Adidas had more financial resources than Puma, and eventually the two companies compromised and made a "Pele Pact": where neither Adidas or Puma would pay Pele to use their boots. However, Barbara Smit, in her book "Three Stripes Versus Puma", states that PUMA employee Hans Henningsen paid Pele $120,000 to wear Pumas; therefore breaking the pact agreed between the Dassler families and their respective companies.

Pele did indeed wear Pumas football boots at the 1970 FIFA World Cup; famously requesting the referee to stop a game in the last minute so he could tie-up his pair of Puma's and create vital promotion for the Puma brand. Pele wore Puma King football boots at the 1970 FIFA World Cup: the Puma King was made from kangaroo leather and was revolutionarily light for football boots of it's era.

The breaking of the "Pele Pact" would renew the acrimony between the Dassler families and their respective companies.