Nike Inc. has been pulled into the spotlight after today’s sweeping indictments against the leaders of global soccer organization FIFA.
Earlier this morning the attorney general filed an indictment against 14 people–including several high-ranking members of FIFA–alleging years of bribery and fraud resulting in over a hundred million dollars in kickbacks. While not directly named in the indictment, Nike’s sponsorship of the Brazilian national soccer team has been called into question.
In a release from the U.S. attorney general’s office explaining the sweeping racketeering and fraud charges, it was noted: “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 indictment doesn’t specifically name Nike but refers to “Sportswear Company A” and a deal made in 1996 to sponsor the Brazilian national soccer team. In the indictment “Sportswear Company A” agreed to paid $40 million to an affiliate of the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) in additional compensation, and acknowledge they would be invoiced for $30 million more between 1996-1999 for “marketing fees.”
In 1996, Nike signed a deal to sponsor the Brazilian National soccer team for $160 million over a 10 year period for exclusive rights to be the footwear, apparel, accessories and equipment supplier.
Nike released a statement earlier today saying that the company “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.” The company declined to comment on the specifics of the indictment.