It’s not uncommon to see the FIFA brand tied up to a scandal, but one of their recent ones could well drag in one the world’s largest sporting brands, Nike.
After ten FIFA officials were arrested in Switzerland on Wednesday and extradited to the U.S to face “federal corruption charges” including racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud reportedly over a period over two decades, the scandal seems to have deepened.
According to the Department of Justice, a major U.S brand has been cited of receiving bribes and kickbacks in relation to its sponsorship of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF). Based on the DOJ’s release, Forbes is speculating that the unnamed brand in the middle of it all is Nike.
The allegations stipulate that:
“Other alleged schemes relate to the payment and receipt of bribes and kickbacks in connection with the sponsorship of CBF by a major U.S. sportswear company, the selection of the host country for the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 FIFA presidential election.”
Delving deeper into the details reveals that U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch had tracked the connection back to Nike’s 1996 10-year, $160 million deal with the Brazil national team.
Jose Hawilla, who was one of the men to help Nike close the deal had pleaded guilty last year to the charge of conspiracy to committing wire fraud. His role also included receiving kickbacks in relation to the agreements between Nike and the CBF.
It’s important to note that Nike have not yet been explicitly accused of any crimes, but it is still early days to see whether the company is drawn in further to the court predicament.
Signs are pointing to Nike though as the only other major brand to compete with them in the world of soccer is Adidas – who are based in Germany.
In a statement released to Forbes after these allegations, Nike said:
“Like fans everywhere we care passionately about the game and are concerned by the very serious allegations. Nike believes in ethical and fair play in both business and sport and strongly opposes any form of manipulation or bribery. We have been cooperating, and will continue to cooperate, with the authorities.”
Any updates and developments on this story will be followed up on.
[Via Complex Magazine]