Banned headphones, a World Cup fashion beat

Tue Jun 17, 2014 2:28pm EDT
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By Esteban Israel

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Neymar likes them Brazil-green. England's Wayne Rooney, white. Luis Suarez, blue.

Banned from the pitch by FIFA for licensing reasons, the bulky Beats headphones are a favorite for many of the world's top players, making the World Cup a huge unofficial ad for the company acquired by Apple Inc last month.

The colorful high-end headphones created by rapper Dr Dre have become a ubiquitous soccer accessory.

Neymar wore them as he stepped off the bus at the Castelao stadium of Fortaleza for Brazil's last training season on the eve of their match with Mexico on Tuesday.

Suarez had them wrapped around his neck as he joked with his Uruguay team mates during a break at a recent practice.

But soccer world governing body FIFA's licensing agreement with rival electronics maker Sony Corp means players have to take them off when they are in World Cup stadiums for official matches and media events.

Marketing experts say that probably only amplifies their appeal.

"When fans see World Cup athletes wearing Beats in their downtime, by choice, it has as much impact as seeing them lace their Adidas (boots) or sip a sponsored beverage," said strategist Ellen Petry Leanse, a former Apple and Google executive.   Continued...

Portugal players arrive at the Viracopos airport ahead of the 2014 World Cup, in Campinas near Sao Paulo, June 11, 2014. REUTERS/Nacho Doce