Michelin has announced a collaboration with Umbro, the football (soccer) gear brand, for the development of football products. The first is the X Boot III football boots with Michelin material expertise, which contributes ‘touch control’ technology.

Following substantial research and development Michelin says it has created a unique, exclusive material that when combined with the suede strike area of the boot results in a 90% improvement in control, touch and striking accuracy (in wet conditions).

Michelin and Umbro are developing further products for the ‘beautiful game’ and Michelin is working with other brand owners where material technology can add value and enhanced performance.

Through its UK based subsidiary company, Michelin Lifestyle Ltd, which is responsible for developing Michelin’s worldwide consumer products licensing programme, Michelin says it is rapidly expanding its brand and technology presence in many sports markets.

Three years ago Michelin and Babolat, the French tennis brand, collaborated to advance the performance of tennis footwear. Michelin says that its technology applied to outsoles has significantly raised the benchmark in the sport and many of the world’s best-known tennis stars, including Andy Roddick, are demanding the Babolat products, which, in just three years, have taken a leading brand position.

Michelin’s second collaboration has been with Cornilleau, the French table tennis equipment manufacturer. Michelin technical experts developed the surface material technology of a revolutionary new all-composite table tennis bat for leisure use. The substantial performance gains for players are increased ball and spin control. The two companies are now working closely on the future evolutions of bats for all levels of play.

Michelin says it has drawn on expertise from many years in the high-pressure world of Formula 1 GP racing in the development of the new football boot. Knowledge of how to maintain control in moments of extreme speed in all weather conditions through material performance is the key to the success of the new Umbro X Boot III.

Michelin says the boot  will further enhance the talents of England’s football captain John Terry and striker Michael Owen (when he finally recovers from a nasty knee ligament injury that has kept him off the field all season), and international stars such as Luis Garcia and Deco.

The X Boot III was tested against a number of regular “K” leather and microfibre boots from competitors at Liverpool John Moore’s University and in lightly wet conditions the grip was 90% better than all others. During dry conditions the X Boot III outperformed all others by 9%, Michelin says.