Nike And Google Kickoff Joga

    March 20, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

A soccer-focused community website based on Google’s invite-only Orkut service recently launched in advance of this year’s Wolrd Cup.

Football fans who prefer the pitch to the gridiron have another option for their community needs, if they can get an invitation to join. Joga will be the latest play in the social media field, one that should get a boost from the building interest in the World Cup, which kicks off in Munich on June 9th.

The Joga site described its focus as a way to “help remind the world how the game was meant to be played.” Users will be able to share photos and videos, and create communities focused on their interests. Nike will create some official communities for particular athletes and cities.

Users will be able to create a Starting 11 dream team in their Joga profiles. The Starting 11 can contain professional players, friends, or both. Think Brazilian star Ronaldo alongside Arsenal scorer and French international Thierry Henry as the starting strikers in a 4-4-2.

BusinessWeek profiled the service, which should debut officially this week. Becoming part of the service means receiving an invitation to do so first. And the focus will be solely on soccer.

It’s an attempt to capture the interest of the heatedly-desired young male demographic globally that comprises Nike’s target market. One Nike official noted the success of MySpace and related sites as an influence:

“As we saw the social networks grow in the U.S. and elsewhere, we asked, ‘What if this was around sports, a specific sport?'” says Trevor Edwards, Nike’s vice president for global brand management. “We are really excited about it.”

The real excitement could come from the competition stemming from the Google/Nike partnership versus Yahoo/Adidas, the latter two being official sponsors for the World Cup. noted how Google and Nike “develop buzz the unofficial way” with Joga. How might Yahoo and Adidas respond, if at all?

And of course, be ready to celebrate when Italy takes its fourth World Cup this summer. Go Azzurri!

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.