Nike and Google build football community

Very interesting to see Google and Nike joining forces to create, a ‘community for soccer players dedicated to keeping the game beautiful’. It’s another example of this emerging trend for social networking sites built around a specific theme.
Nike effectively owns the rights to a number of world-famous names – not least the Brazilian national team, and the undisputed best player on the planet, Ronaldinho – and it looks like this site will lever that. The ‘about’ page explains: ‘Joga is about getting to know your fellow fans; creating games and clubs; accessing athletes from Nike; and enjoying video clips and photos (you can even upload your own).’ Sounds to me like a blogging platform, with access to a free multimedia library dominated by Nike properties… oops, I mean, players.
Myspace succeeds because it’s defined by its connections with the music business. ‘Early adopter’ sites like digg or succeed because, implicitly or explicitly, they appeal to the tech community. Nike are clearly looking to appeal to (arguably) the largest and most passionate community on the planet… the football fans, in World Cup year. And good luck to them.
(Worth noting, incidentally, that neither Nike nor Google are official partners of the World Cup. But Adidas and Yahoo are. This is a great way to tie yourself to the year’s dominant media event without paying big euros for ‘official sponsor’ status.)