Adidas and Puma bury hatchet after more than 60 years

Mon Sep 21, 2009 6:16pm EDT
 
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By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - Sports goods makers Adidas and Puma, founded by two feuding brothers, buried a 61-year-old grudge by playing a soccer match at their German hometown of Herzogenaurach to mark International Peace Day on Monday.

With Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer and Puma CEO Jochen Zeitz taking part, employees played in mixed teams to mark the annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence with the first reconciliation since brothers Adi and Rudolf Dassler split in 1948.

"The two brothers did not speak until they passed away and that is unfortunate," Zeitz told reporters.

"We are public companies and we focused very much on our own business but now the idea came to unite and play football together in the name of peace."

The two companies, both based in the tiny Franconian town, were founded by the Dasslers in the late 1940s and have been associated with major moments in sport.

Brazil's Pele wore Puma shoes in the 1970 soccer World Cup final and swimmer Mark Spitz held up a pair of Adidas "Gazelles" in his 1972 Olympics gold medal ceremony.

Until the brothers separated, after a row the origin of which is still unclear, they had both owned a factory called "Gebrueder Dassler Sportschuhfabrik."

There they manufactured sports shoes and even provided 1936 Olympic champion Jesse Owens with them.

In 1948, the business was split. Adi called his firm Adidas; Rudolf called his Ruda before changing it to Puma.

(Editing by Sonia Oxley)

 
<p>Shareholders of German sports goods firm Puma arrive for the company's annual meeting in Nuremberg April 22, 2008. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle</p>