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Nike rule out changes to Rooney boots

Written by: Staff
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AMSTERDAM, May 4 (Reuters) Nike is not planning to make any changes to the design of its ''90 Supremacy'' football shoe, which England striker Wayne Rooney was wearing when he broke his foot last week.

Responding to intense media scrutiny from the British press, and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson's request that Nike take another look at the boot to make sure that it did not play any part in the injury, Nike said it was not to blame for Rooney's multiple bone fractures.

''I think it is very convenient to blame the shoe,'' Nike (NKE.N) spokesman Charlie Brooks told Reuters.

The injury, at Manchester United's 3-0 defeat at Chelsea on Saturday, threw into question whether Rooney would be in England's squad at the World Cup in Germany next month.

''If he hurt his hamstring we would not be talking about the shorts he was wearing,'' Brooks said.

Still, Brooks said that Nike would take feedback from Manchester United, as they do on a constant basis. Research and development on the shoe took two years, he said.

Rooney is not the first English player to injure himself at a critical juncture. David Beckham broke a metatarsal in his foot before the 2002 World Cup, but still played in the games.

Gary Neville and Steven Gerrard have also suffered foot injuries.

''Everybody is centring now on shoes, but lots of players around the world are playing on light weight shoes,'' Brooks said.

''Statistically it appears that more English players are injured.

The intensity of the game and pitches in England are other factors to watch,'' he added.

NEGATIVE IMPACT Nike does not expect much negative impact on its marketing now that Rooney may miss the World Cup.

''A huge number of players are involved in the campaign,'' Brooks said. ''Wayne is important but the boots will be worn by other players.'' Jamie Wynne-Morgan, a director of M&C Saatchi sponsorship, said that Nike could benefit from the publicity surrounding Rooney and the shoe, as the media speculates on whether Rooney will recover in time for the World Cup.

Wynne-Morgan, whose clients include Reebok, Carlsberg and Orange, noted that Beckham's sponsor Adidas responded quickly when the England captain broke a metatarsal in his foot before the 2002 World Cup.

''There were murmurings of his boot then too,'' Wynne-Morgan said. ''But Adidas got designers and technicians in Germany to create a specific boot for him to wear.'' REUTERS AY PC1956

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