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Under Armour making moves in international soccer

Southampton FC, Under Armour’s new global football partner, practiced at Ludwig Field at the University of Maryland last week. (Under Armour)

Southampton FC, Under Armour’s new global football partner, practiced at Ludwig Field at the University of Maryland last week. (Under Armour)

With Under Armour already well-established in football, the Baltimore sports brand is expanding its reach to what the rest of the world thinks of when it hears that word.

Calling it “global football,” Under Armour wants to make soccer, the most popular sport in the world, a major category for the company.

“We are the brand for the next generation in global football,” said Under Armour Chief Merchandising Officer Henry Stafford at the company’s Investor Day last year.

Earlier this month, Under Armour revealed its first match kits for Premier League team Southampton FC. The company announced a seven-year partnership with the team in April. Last week, the Southampton squad came to Under Armour’s headquarters in Baltimore as part of its pre-season training camp to learn about the company’s plans for its global football category.

The team also visited Under Armour’s Lighthouse innovation center at City Garage and trained at Ludwig Field at the University of Maryland, College Park. Southampton’s kit was designed in Baltimore at Under Armour’s Innovation Lab.

“Using their experience with athletes and understanding what they need to succeed, Under Armour has been able to apply that knowledge throughout the process of creating our performance wear,” said Ralph Krueger, chairman of Southampton FC.

Also this month, Under Armour announced a five-year partnership with Aston Villa FC and unveiled new match kits and training wear for the 2016-2017 season. Under Armour also launched a new ad campaign with the team called “Fight Like Lions.”

Among its existing partnerships, Under Armour revealed live on Facebook new kits for Tottenham Hotspur, a first for the team. Tottenham has been with Under Armour since 2011.

Tottenham Hotspur will debut the new kits, which also were designed in Baltimore, at the International Champions Cup next week.

Under Armour will be the official ball and apparel provider of the International Champions Cup and debut the new Desafio soccer ball at the tournament. The ICC will be the first time top European soccer clubs will be using the ball competitively.

The tournament will be held from July 23 to Aug. 13, with matches across the United States and Europe. Ten European teams will be competing in the event, including top club teams such as Leicester City FC, Paris Saint-Germain, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and FC Bayern Munich.