December 7, 2005

Adidas says aims to sell 10 million World Cup balls

BERLIN (Reuters) - Adidas hopes to capitalize on enthusiasm
for the Germany 2006 soccer World Cup by selling 10 million
official balls, the firm's chief executive was quoted as saying
on Wednesday.

"We sold almost six million of the 2002 World Cup ball,
more than six million of the 2004 European Championships ball
and we aim to sell 10 million of the Germany (2006) ball," CEO
Herbert Hainer told WirtschaftsWoche magazine.

Hainer gave little away about the design of the ball, which
is due to be presented in Leipzig on Friday. Nevertheless, he
said it would be better suited for South American soccer
players as well as fly "more accurately than other balls."

"The ball is softer, it allows better control than ever.
That's what most players want, particularly the South
Americans," he said, adding that the weight and aerodynamics of
the ball would remain constant throughout a game.

"It's totally inured against external influences," he said.

Although FIFA has ruled out using "smartball" technology at
the World Cup, Hainer said a ball partly designed by Adidas
containing a tiny microchip would eventually be adopted.

Developed by Adidas with Germany's Cairos AG and the German
Fraunhofer Institute, the "smartball" is designed to rule out
mistakes on goal-line decisions and was tested at the World
Under-17 Championship in Peru earlier this year.

Hainer said it was possible Adidas could share the
technology for the ball with other firms in future. He also
repeated that the company planned to chalk up more than one
billion euros worth of soccer product sales next year.