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Competition Comes to a Head for World Cup Sponsors

The first decisive marketing goal of World Cup 2010 was scored nearly three years before the opening match of the soccer tournament, in which Mexico will face South Africa on Friday. It came when Nike, the American sports shoe and clothing maker, acquired Umbro, a British supplier of soccer gear that is a longtime sponsor of the English national team. The deal signaled a new determination by Nike to challenge Adidas, the German soccer apparel powerhouse, on its European home turf.

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