By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – After ending a nine-year partnership with Nike, Flamengo announced a huge contract with Olympikus, a Brazilian sporting gear supplier. The five-year deal with the national company is the biggest ever in the history of Brazilian soccer, involving not only sports equipment and uniforms, but also a tidy sum of Reais – the deal will pay Flamengo R$21 million every season until the end of 2014.
The Olympikus money was one of the main factors enabling the team to hire striker Adriano, who will now wear the number 9 shirt. “Olympikus’ arrival represents a new chapter in Flamengo’s history. Our partnership will be hugely positive for both sides,” said Delair Dumbrosck, Flamengo’s Vice-President.
The biggest visual differences between the new and old uniforms is the broadness of the horizontal stripes – the new one has slightly broader horizontal stripes, totaling nine instead of the twelve stripes of the previous uniform – and a red detail in the collar which is an abstraction of the Olympikus logo.
Another big change is the second uniform, which has moved back to the two traditional horizontal red and black stripes. The previous edition of the second uniform was almost entirely white, having only small red and black details on the shoulders.
Ricardo Hinrichsen, Flamengo’s Vice-President of Marketing, announced that even before the new uniform’s release, sales were already huge. “The new uniform is a huge success. Flamengo used to sell around 120,000 uniform shirts a year. One month of pre-sales of the new uniform sold 204,750 pieces. We believe this year’s numbers will go up to 1 million units.”
The deal with Olympikus gave new uniforms not only to Flamengo’s soccer team, but also to the basketball squad, which recently won the national title. The sponsor will also donate money to the creation of a Flamengo museum in Gávea, the Carioca neighborhood where the club is based.
The end of the nine-year relationship with Nike was not friendly, however. The contract with Flamengo was valid until last month, but the team and the company had not been getting along since 2008.
Last year the Carioca team alleged Nike was sending the wrong materials, delaying deliveries and acting unprofessionally on other levels. Essentially, they were not supporting the team as stipulated in their contract. When Flamengo publicly admitted its disappointment with Nike, Olympikus stepped up.
Olympikus offered a much better contract, with bigger numbers, more professionalism and a bigger and better distribution of products in the stores. According to Flamengo, the distribution was Nike’s biggest flaw, and was the reason Flamengo only sold 120,000 shirts while São Paulo, for example sold 500,000.
Since Olympikus’ offer, Flamengo was trying to break the contract with Nike, but the company sued them, and obliged the team to use Nike gear until the end of June. Before the judge’s decision, however, Flamengo played some matches with question marks on their shirts to cover the Nike logo.
With a bigger and better sponsorship deal in place, Flamengo looks set to put their questions to bed and begin a new relationship with Olympikus.