Soccer world governing body FIFA, has banned the bulky Beats headphones, requiring players have to take them off when they are in World Cup stadiums for official matches and media events.
This is because of a licensing agreement with electronics maker Sony Corp.
The colorful high-end headphones created by rapper Dr Dre have become a ubiquitous soccer accessory. Neymar wore them as he stepped off the bus at the Castelao stadium of Fortaleza for Brazil’s last training season on the eve of their match with Mexico on Tuesday.
Suarez had them wrapped around his neck as he joked with his Uruguay team mates during a break at a recent practice.
Acquired by Apple for $3 billion, Beats Electronics is known for “guerrilla marketing” tactics to bypass licensing barriers.
During the 2012 Olympics in London, for instance, the company sent thousands of free headphones to high profile athletes including the U.S. basketball team and the entire British delegation, outsmarting official sponsor Panasonic.
Officials at Beats were not available for comment on their strategy at the Olympics and this World Cup.
A 5-minute film featuring Neymar, Suarez, Germany’s Mario Goetze, Netherlands’ Robin van Persie, Mexico’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and other players wearing Beats headphones released days before the World Cup has been seen by 10.6 million people on YouTube.
Its name? “The Game Before the Game”.
Sony this month issued all players participating in the World Cup with a free set of its own headphones they can take to the games.
But so far few players have been spotted with them wrapped around their necks.