Main manufacturers and consumers

Vietnam failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, joining a host of other sideline countries, Italy, for example. But despite not competing on the pitch, Vietnam is still an integral part of the global football ecosystem. Here’s how.

Vietnam have never played in a World Cup tournament (apart from the qualifiers), but that hasn’t stopped the football-mad nation from getting involved.

Last month, the national broadcaster acquired the TV rights to the 2022 FIFA World Cup for ‘no less than 12 million dollars‘, according to VN Express.

It’s on the back of an investigation by Research in Indochina which revealed that 77% of Vietnamese watched at least one World Cup match in 2018.

Clearly, the consumer market for all things football is growing alongside rising incomes, and this has created a fertile market for sellers of football-related products, from mixed media to apparel.

But of course, Vietnam’s role is not limited to that of a consumer in the global football market. Vietnam also doubles as a manufacturing center for football articles and sportswear.

As such, despite not having a team in Qatar, Vietnam are still likely to be well represented on the pitch.

Major sports brands manufacture soccer kits in Vietnam

Vietnam has become a hub of manufacturing activity for major sportswear brands.

Adidas, for example, has 76 third-party suppliers in Vietnam employing some 200,000 workers.

Adidas has been an Official Partner of the FIFA World Cup since the 1970s, supplying match balls, as well as uniforms for player escorts, officials, referees, ball teams and volunteers.

This year it is also supplying World Cup contenders Argentina, Germany, Japan, Mexico and Spain with their official kits.

In 2021, Vietnam accounted for 30% of Adidas’ footwear production volume and 15% of its apparel – so there’s a good chance that Vietnam-made cleats will tear up the soccer field in Qatar.

Similarly, Nike produces 51% of its shoes in vietnam on the other side 138 dispersed suppliers the country. It employs around 484,000 workers.

At this year’s World Cup, Nike will be responsible for kits from the following countries: Qatar, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, France, Croatia, England, Netherlands, South Korea, Canada, Portugal, United States and Australia.

And then there is Puma. The third largest sportswear sponsor of the 2022 World Cup.

The Puma kit will adorn players from Serbia, Switzerland, Uruguay, Ghana, Morocco and Senegal.

Like Adidas and Nike, Puma also has a large presence in Vietnam. He started working with Vietnamese manufacturers in 2007 and Vietnam has since become his ‘strongest producing country‘ representing 32% of Puma’s total production volume.

Football consumption in Vietnam

But Vietnam’s burgeoning middle class is proving to be more than just a source of labor for the factories of big sports brands.

Vietnamese love watching football, but more specifically, they love watching international football.

The most popular football leagues to watch in Vietnam

soccer league 18+ Men 18-34
premier league 26% 53%
The league 11% 26%
UEFA Champions League ten% 27%
League 1 seven% 13%

Source: Research in Indochina

Local leagues have been plagued by allegations of corruption and as a result interest in local football has waned with sports fans flocking to offshore leagues for better competition.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed either, with several European teams taking steps to capitalize on the potential of the Vietnamese market.

For example, in 2015, Manchester United played a friendly match against Vietnam national team in Hanoi. To lure the European champions to the Far East, the Saigon Hanoi Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SHB) has reportedly put £1m ($1.58m) on the table.

Borussia Dortmund are also set to face the national team in Hanoi in just over a week.

But where it becomes clear just how much European football is in demand in Vietnam is in TV rights.

Vietnamese cable subscription service K+ Paid $40 million to air three seasons of the EPL from 2016 to 2019. He also secured the rights for 2019 to 2022, however, he was tight-lipped about how much he spent on this most recent purchase.

The Vietnamese sportswear market

In 2022, Liverpool FC have opened a pop-up store in Ho Chi Minh City. The ribbon cutting was performed by former Liverpool striker Luis Garcia to great fanfare among a wide range of Liverpool FC fans in Vietnam.

“Our new store in Vietnam will allow us to continue to grow our retail operations, so that all of our fans can enjoy authentic LFC experiences and purchase our full range of official merchandise,” said Mike Cox, Vice President. senior, merchandising, Liverpool FC, in a statement.

This could turn out to be a very wise move, as the Vietnamese sportswear industry is expecting strong growth over the next few years.

to spend 70 million US dollars in sportswear and sports shoes in 2022, according to Statista, Vietnamese are expected to spend about double every year by 2027.

And the big players are already taking advantage of it.

The world’s largest sportswear retailer, Decathlon, has just opened its fifth store in Hanoi’s Ha Dong district.

Counterfeit sportswear is a big problem

But there are challenges in the Vietnamese sportswear market. Namely, counterfeit products.

Vietnam’s cities are teeming with shops selling counterfeit sportswear as well as tourists and locals eager to buy big name brands at a fraction of the price.

But even though authorities have made concerted efforts to find and prosecute counterfeiters, the problem persists.

According to U.S. Trade Representative 301 Special Report Watchlist in 2022, “counterfeit products remain widely available in physical markets” in Vietnam.

This makes it difficult to buy and sell genuine merchandise, with buyers of genuine merchandise being put off by the possibility of accidentally buying counterfeits.

It’s also unfortunate, with a Standard Insights and We Create Content survey in 2021 finding that 87% of Vietnamese sports fans respondents would be interested in purchasing official merchandise.

Vietnam’s role in world football can only grow

But despite the challenges facing the sportswear market in Vietnam, the relatively nascent football market can only grow.

Industrial base of major brands, its production capacity is expected to continue to develop alongside the rise of china-plus-one strategies. And, as consumers, with rapidly increasing incomes, European football clubs are likely to continue to build brand awareness among Vietnamese football fans.

With that in mind, and with world football playing such a big part in Vietnam’s future, a World Cup spot surely isn’t too far away.

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