The ongoing investigation into bribery, fraud and corruption at FIFA involved some surprising American names: The Miami chairman of a popular nationwide soccer league, and a major U.S. sportswear firm some believe to be Nike.
The US Justice Department’s 161-page indictment included allegations of bribery involving attempts by “a multinational sportswear company headquartered in the United States” to win an apparel licensing deal with Brazil’s national soccer team. Although investigators will not name the company, the indictment says the sportswear firm signed a 10-year, $160 million sponsorship deal with the Brazilian team in 1996. Nike have designed Brazil’s kit since 1996.
The indictment alleges a sportswear-company official agreed three days later to allow Traffic Brazil, a sports marketing company, to charge additional “marketing fees.” Traffic Brazil then invoiced the company for tens of millions of dollars more in payments over the next three years that investigators say were bribes.
Although their name did not appear anywhere in the report, and Nike have not confirmed they were manufacturer to which the allegations referred, they have issued a response to the media:
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.
Nike’s current contract with Brazil expires in 2018 and includes $34 million a year in payments to the team, which is the fourth-largest kit deal in international football.
This is just another example of how far corruption has spread in football, and it seems like everyone is getting involved. We assume the team at Nike saw what was happening and thought to themselves: “We might as well JUST DO IT!.” (Terrible, I know, but I had to get it in there somewhere).
It’s almost a year ago since John Oliver compared The FIFA World Cup to a sausage. Using the Sausage principle – ‘If you love something, never find out how it was made’, and I have to say, he was spot on.
It is important that FIFA doesn’t get away with the many crimes they have committed in the past, but it is even more important that we put a stop to further criminal activity – including the ongoing human rights abuse that continues to occur in the build up to the 2022 World Cup.
With the recent evidence that has materialised, it is clear why FIFA have turned a blind eye to an estimated 4,000 worker death in Qatar since 2010. With just over 7 years till the 2022 world cup, at this rate, we can expect 5,600 more deaths before the World Cup.
According to FIFA, you can put a price on 10,000 lives. And what’s even more depressing is that it took a $150m scandal for the world to care…