Mesut Özil: Boot Ban Buffoonery

adidas. Image via botasdejugadores.

A few months ago, Real Madrid and Germany midfielder Mesult Ozil committed an act of flagrant adultery. In public. On a football pitch. He’s just been called out on it.

What do you mean, you didn’t know?

Nike. Image: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images Europe.

Ok, it wasn’t Dino Drpic level event, but still. You might not care whether your players are wearing flip flops as long as they’re doing their job properly, but in certain circles, Ozil’s decision to step out for Madrid friendly in August wearing adidas Predator LZ boots instead of his usual Nike Mercurial Superfly choice was just as provocative as a player having sex in the centre circle.

Unsurprisingly, Nike were not pleased to see Ozil’s sweeping with the enemy. They filed a lawsuit against him, citing a contractual stipulation allowing them to ‘match’ an offer from a competitor before he is legally allowed to jump ship. A Dutch court has ruled Ozil may not wear adidas boots for 180 days, and he turned out for his club’s league fixture vs. Celta Vigo in one of Nike’s latest silo, the Vapor VIII ACC .

Whether he will renegotiate his Nike contract after this minor blip, or adidas will tempt him with a ridiculous contract remains to be seen, but be clear about one thing. This is relevant to you as a football fan. The vast sums of money sports apparel companies are prepared to invest in exploiting  this incredibly lucrative revenue stream are contributing to the commodification of football in ways that would make George Orwell blush. Wayne Rooney reportedly picks up £1m a season for shilling Nike T90’s, while Cristiano Ronaldo gets £5m for having the nuts to create and wear his signature Nike Mercurial CR7’s.

It isn’t even because people want to emulate those players and protect the increasingly scarce notion that at the heart of football lies a desire to simply play, and be the best you can possibly be.

David Beckham reportedly gets £7m for wearing adidas Predator DB’s compared to the £2m Messi picks up from the same company. With the best will in the world, that £5m difference is not indicative of a purchaser’s desire to emulate the skills of the best players at work, but clever, targeted exploitation by the company of global brand recognition.

Did you feel that? It was the delicate green shoots of that notion we had being crushed by the stampede to Nike Town.


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