Nike to stick by disgraced Woods

Sports goods maker Nike is sticking by golfer Tiger Woods and looking forward to the day when the troubled star returns to the game, one of the company's top ex

Updated: February 27, 2010 17:31 IST
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London :Sports goods maker Nike is sticking by golfer Tiger Woods and looking forward to the day when the troubled star returns to the game, one of the company's top executives said.

Woods saw sponsors such as consulting firm Accenture and telecoms giant AT&T drop him after allegations of extramarital affairs emerged last year, forcing the player to take a break from the game and seek counselling.

Nike will not be among the firms deserting Woods, Nike Brand president Charlie Denson told AFP in an interview.

"Time will ultimately tell what's his image ends up being," he said.

"One thing that we do know is that he is still just as good a golfer as he was a year ago.

"In relationship to that, the way we continue to drive our golf business, he's one of our major contributors and we would expect him to be in the future as well."

Last week Woods, 34, emerged from self-imposed exile to read a statement in which he admitted to the affairs that have damaged his marriage and reputation and put his career in limbo.

Woods, speaking for the first time since the scandal erupted in November, gave no timetable for his return to golf.

"For him and for us, we're both looking forward to getting him back on the golf course and back playing golf, which is what he does better than anybody else on the planet," said Denson.

Denson also said Nike, the number one sportswear maker, was planning no changes to its strategy of backing teams and individual players, rather than events such as the 2010 World Cup, supported by its rival Adidas, also a major Olympic Games sponsor.

"The World Cup represents the biggest stage in that sport and we're certainly be there," said Denson, speaking of the June 11-July 11 tournament.

"We are on the pitch. That's where our focus is, working with the teams and the players."

Speaking on Thursday in London, he said the US company is sponsoring nine of the 32 teams in the World Cup draw.

"That is how we approach the major events... we have nine teams, which is more teams that we never had before."

He said that since the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Nike had made major strides into the realm of world football, signing a sponsorship deal with the French team which goes into effect next year and taking over sportswear maker Umbro and its sponsorship stake in the England team.

"Two considerable investments and two big big moves into world football," said Denson.

Speaking of action on the field, Denson said that he could envisage no better outcome of the World Cup than "an England vs Brazil final with the Netherlands playing the USA for third place," pointing out that all four teams were in the Nike stable.

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