Nike Cooperating with Probe in FIFA Scandal

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Nike on Wednesday indicated it is “cooperating” with authorities after the arrests of FIFA officials in Zurich on corruption charges laid out in a 47-count indictment unveiled by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch Wednesday morning.

The indictment in Brooklyn federal court charged nine officials from soccer’s governing body and five corporate executives with racketeering and corruption for accepting kickbacks and bribes related to international soccer. The indictment comes a little more than five months after FIFA’s closed its own “independent investigation” after finding no evidence that its decision in 2010 to locate the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments in Russia and Qatar were influenced by bribes.

Though Nike was not referenced in the Department of Justice indictment, a “multinational sportswear company headquartered in the United States” is mentioned with regard to bribery allegations involving Brazil. The indictment does not provide any information as to whether the unidentified sportswear company had knowledge of the alleged kickback payments.

In Brooklyn, Lynch (pictured to the left) outlined allegations of bribery and corruption in the bidding process for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, the 2011 FIFA presidential election and a sponsorship agreement between the Brazil national football team and a major U.S. sportswear company. Lynch also would not comment on whether or not Nike was involved in the investigation.

Nike signed a $100 million sponsorship deal with the Brazilian Football Confederation in 1996 and still has an agreement with the association. When asked at a Wednesday morning press conference, Lynch would not comment on whether or not the company was involved in the investigation.

Though Nike was not referenced in the Department of Justice indictment, a “multinational sportswear company headquartered in the United States” is mentioned with regard to bribery allegations involving Brazil.

Nike, which also declined to address whether it’s the sportswear company named in the indictment, released a statement Wednesday, “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.” [Source: Sports One Source]

Karl Lusbec