Is Roger Federer Breaking Up With Nike?

by Brenden Decker (Contributor) @brendendecker

Roger Federer is undoubtedly one of the greatest tennis players to ever play the game, with his staggering list of accomplishments and records continuing to grow year after year. His success, however, is not limited to his play on the court, as he has proven himself a very valuable figure away from the court as well.

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Federer is a big baller

Federer is currently the seventh highest paid athlete in the world, earning an astounding $77.2 million last year. What makes that figure even more impressive is that $65 million of the total came solely from endorsements, putting him number one in the world in that category. That’s right, Roger Federer earned more in endorsements last year than the likes of LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo, Tiger Woods and Conor McGregor.

Federer boasts an impressive list of sponsors including Rolex, Mercedez-Benz, Barilla, Lindt, and Wilson. These are all notable sponsors who pay him millions and millions of dollars a year to use and promote their products. However, there is one single sponsor of his that tops them all in terms of worldwide prominence and distinction – Nike.

 

Federer and Nike are synonymous

Federer has had a relationship with Nike since 1994, dating back to his days as a junior player almost a full decade before he claimed his first Grand Slam Championship. On March 1, 2018, Federer and Nike came to the end of a 10-year contract, which earned him somewhere in the neighborhood of $120 million. Many thought that when this last deal was signed in 2008 it would take Federer to the end of his career, but a sudden resurgence from the Swiss star has turned that notion around completely and put the future of their partnership in limbo.

While nothing has been decided on and Federer may ultimately negotiate a return to Nike, a sizeable offer has surfaced from a new sponsor, which if agreed to could ultimately end one of the most substantial commercial partnerships in sport. The Japanese company Uniqlo, formerly associated with Novak Djokovic, has reportedly tabled a 10-year offer worth in excess of $300 million. This deal with Uniqlo would alone earn Federer about half of what he earned last year from all his endorsements combined and would take him well into the years following his tennis career, both of which are sure to be enticing factors that Federer will contemplate.

 

Uniqlo who?

On the other side, Uniqlo is nowhere near the global brand Nike is and there are several key things they will not be able to offer Federer. For one, Uniqlo does not produce their own shoes, which would force him to look elsewhere (Adidas has been rumored as a potential partner). Nike also owns the now famous “RF” logo seen on much of his apparel and merchandise. Federer would lose the rights to the logo and the potential rebranding of something new could be nightmarish. Federer is so closely associated with Nike at this stage in his career, leaving his longtime sponsor might present more trouble than it’s worth.

For now, Federer has continued to wear Nike apparel as usual in Stuttgart and has not provided much clarity into where he is leaning when questioned about it. With Wimbledon fast approaching, the pressure is mounting for Nike to work out a lucrative enough deal to retain one of the world’s top athletes – one who has been synonymous with their brand for nearly 25 years.

 

What will Federer wear at Wimbledon?

When play begins at the All England Club next month, will we see Federer continuing to sport the famous Nike swoosh or will he step out onto the grass at Centre Court wearing something completely different for the first time in his professional career? Only time will tell but one thing is certain – one of the most marketable athletes in the world will not be without a major apparel sponsorship deal for long.

 

  • Brendan brings THE SLICE from Ontario, Canada. Find him on social media @brendandecker.

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