Blog: Leonie BarriePeace at last for Puma and Adidas

Leonie Barrie | 17 September 2009

Shaking hands, kicking a football about and catching a movie…It’s what you’d expect from a couple of old pals, but when employees of Adidas and Puma get together next Monday, it will end a 60-year-old family feud.

In support of the Peace One Day initiative, workers from the two companies will put aside old grievances and shake hands, play football, and then watch the film “The Day After Peace”, directed by the initiative’s founder, Jeremy Gilley.

And in the process, they will end a family feud which has divided the medieval Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach since the 1940s, and a mysterious argument between brothers Rudolph and Adi Dassler, then makers of sports shoes under the Gebrueder Dassler Sportschuhfabrik banner.

Nobody knows for certain what the two argued about – some say a woman, some say their respective attitudes towards the Nazis – but Adi went on to found Adidas, while Rudolph’s Ruda venture was quickly renamed Puma.

And little Herzogenaurach has been split down the middle ever since.

Next Monday’s joint activities, the first since the companies were founded, are in support of Gilley’s Peace One Day initiative, which aims to promote peaceful cohabitation around the world.

They will also include half-time activities during two German premier league football matches this Saturday (19 September).

“We firmly believe that sport can bring the world together,” said Puma chairman and CEO Jochen Zeitz, voicing a commitment to “performance and passion, teamwork and fair play”.

Meanwhile, Herbert Hainer, Adidas CEO and Zeitz’ new best mate, added: “Our unity… is a small step in a positive direction, as well as an expression of the united power of sport in a world which we are all responsible for.”

But next Monday will not be the first time that an olive branch has been offered during the long-running conflict.

For that, you have to go back to the 1980s, when Hainer shocked little Herzogenaurach by enticing one of Puma’s employees across to Adidas.

And the worker in question was none other than Frank Dassler, Rudi’s grandson.

By Richard Woodard.


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