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Puma, Adidas Divide in German Town Starting to Fade

Residents of Herzogenaurach have historically been divided over which brand to wear.

Residents of Herzogenaurach have historically been divided over which brand to wear.

For one town in Germany, athletic shoes have caused a rift that has lasted nearly seven decades.

An interesting story in the Wall Street Journal explores Herzogenaurach, the home base for two major shoe companies, Puma and adidas. Ever since the 1940s, the town has been divided between two groups of people—those who wear Puma and those who wear adidas.

The town has two soccer teams: one who wears Puma and one who wears adidas.

Residents are judged first on which shoes they support. Those who live south of a river that cuts through the city are adidas supporters, while those who live north of it wear Puma.

Herzogenaurach, according to the Journal, became known as “the city of bent necks” because people would look at one another’s shoes before exchanging a greeting.

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But the feud is starting to fade. According to the Wall Street Journal, the soccer teams began practicing together last summer. In 2009, the two companies played a friendly soccer match made of mixed teams.

Mayor German Hacker said the bitterness between the companies—and their customers—is dissipating.

“I think we can say that there are no enemies in this city anymore,” Hacker said. “Wearing both is possible now. To me as a mayor I’d even say it’s obligatory.”

FURTHER READING: Wall Street Journal.