Nike (NKE) and Google (GOOG), hoping to take social networking to a new realm, have quietly launched the first invitation-only Web site for soccer-mad fans around the world. Joga.com went live late last week and will soon be running in 140 countries and 14 languages.
Joga.com is a free network where members will be able to create Web sites and send e-mail, photos, and video clips, as well as access Nike content related to its sponsored athletes such as Brazilian superstar Ronaldino or U.S. soccer prodigy Freddy Adu, according to Nike officials who confirmed the new initiative. Google officials did not return calls.
Following the raging popularity of such sites as MySpace.com and Orkut.com in Brazil, Nike executives approached Google with the idea of creating a social-networking site revolving around the world’s most popular sport: soccer.
Wow. 140 countries and 14 languages? Will we see a virtual soccer riot? And what would Nike do if Neo-Nazi’s and hooligans get on the site?