Former tennis director at Nike, Mike Nakajima, thought it was atrocious to see Roger Federer and Nike ending their partnership in 2018. In 2018, Federer and Nike couldn’t agree on a new contract so the Swiss tennis icon accepted a 10-year deal offered by Uniqlo.
According to some reports, Federer was being paid $10 million annually by Nike but then Uniqlo jumped in and offered the Swiss $30 million per year. “That should never have happened. For us to let somebody like that go, it’s an atrocity.
Roger Federer belonged with Nike for the rest of his career. Just like Michael Jordan. Like LeBron James, like Tiger Woods. He’s right up there with the all-time greatest Nike athletes ever. I’m still disappointed. But it happened.
I have to get over it. It wasn’t my decision and I wasn’t there for it,” Nakajima told Simon Cambers and Simon Graf of CNN.
Nakajima: Federer is going to be fine
If Nakajima was in Federer’s position, he says he probably would have done the same and accepted a deal that was paying him $20 million more annually.
But the thing is that Nakajima thinks that Nike should have never allowed it to happen. “I’m sure everything works out for a reason. Roger is going to be fine. So I’m happy for him. I probably would have done the same thing if I were in the same boat.
Who might have turned down a $30 million a year contract? But it should have never gotten to that point. Nike is still selling millions and millions of pairs of Jordans. When’s the last time Michael played? It’s been many, many years.
They could have done the same thing for Roger. For years to come, they could have created shoes with an RF logo,” Nakajima said. Federer used his astonishing success to also build a very strong brand. Even though Federer didn’t play in any tournaments last year, Forbes said that the Swiss tennis icon landed around $90 million from sponsorship and endorsement deals.
In November, Federer visited Tokyo to take part in a Uniqlo event. When Uniqlo signed Federer to a 10-year deal in 2018, they were well-aware that the Swiss would be well-retired by the time their contract expired.