Nike becomes suspected player in alleged $150 million FIFA bribery scandal
The international 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 could be Nike.
For more than two decades, the Justice Department said Wednesday, five "unscrupulous" U.S. and South American sports and banking executives helped funnel more than $150 million in bribes to officials atop FIFA, the multibillion-dollar goliath governing the world's most popular sport.
The indictment also alleges bribes were paid and pocketed in connection with the sponsorship of the Brazilian national soccer team by "a major U.S. sportswear company." 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, closely matching Nike’s clothes, shoes and equipment deal with the team that year.
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 then invoiced the company for tens of millions of dollars more in payments over the next three years that investigators say were bribes.
Nike's current contract, which expires in 2018, includes $34 million a year in payments to the team, the fourth-largest uniform deal in international soccer, and the Oregon-based mega-firm's Swoosh logo sits on every Brazilian player's outfit.
The Brazilian sponsorship deal helped transform Nike from a brand mostly known for running and basketball shoes into a global sports giant. Nike’s soccer revenue surpassed $2.2 billion in fiscal year 2014, up from $40 million in 1994.
A Nike representative said in a statement that the firm is "concerned by the very serious allegations ... and strongly opposes any form of manipulation or bribery," adding that the company is cooperating with the authorities.
Nike investors seemed to shrug off the issue, sending the $88 billion giant's stock falling less than 1 percent. Even if Nike was implicated, analysts expected it would have minimal impact on the Big Swoosh."What fans or consumers are going to be much more concerned about is doping of athletes, fixing of matches, that kind of thing," said Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst for NPD Group. “I think they couldn’t care less who paid whom for what marketing deal.”
The broader corruption charges allege the five U.S. and South American businessmen pocketed kickbacks in exchange for media rights and marketing deals tied to some of soccer's most profitable games.
Investigators said they acted secretly, hatching intricate money laundering schemes, smuggling cash and wiring tens of millions of dollars through offshore accounts from the Cayman Islands to Hong Kong.
Besides the nine FIFA officials, sports-marketing executives Alejandro Burzaco, Aaron Davidson, Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis were indicted on charges of racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy and a host of other charges tied to years of “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted" corruption, as Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch called them.
The executives are accused of serving as middlemen between FIFA and its six continental confederations, who make most of their money selling media and marketing rights to popular matches, and the legion of TV and radio networks, corporate sponsors and other licensees, who want to broadcast the games or promote their brands.
By bribing corrupt FIFA officials with more than $150 million since 1991, the Justice Department said, the marketing executives secured themselves lucrative multiyear contracts.
About $4 billion of FIFA's $5.7 billion in revenue between 2011 and 2014 came from contracts for TV and marketing rights for the 2014 World Cup, the Justice Department said.
Several prominent South American business leaders were charged in the investigation of what Internal Revenue Service criminal investigation chief Richard Weber called "the World Cup of fraud."
Burzaco, 50, is the chief executive of Torneos y Competencias S.A. (Tournaments and Competitions), an Argentinean sports broadcast firm that runs pay-TV channels, such as TyC Sports, and owns the rights to air key soccer matches, including World Cup qualifiers.Hugo Jinkis, 70, and his son Mariano Jinkis, 40, were the president and vice president of Full Play Group S.A., an Argentinean sports-marketing agency that holds the TV rights to many South American games.
José Margulies, 75, the controlling principal of Valente Corp. and Somerton Ltd., was also accused of helping coordinate the illegal payments between the executives and officials.
The lone American executive charged so far is Aaron Davidson, 44, the president of Traffic Sports USA, a Miami-based arm of the Traffic Group, a Brazilian sports marketing conglomerate.
Davidson is chairman of the board of the North American Soccer League (NASL), and Traffic Sports USA owns stakes in several of its regional soccer franchises, including the Atlanta Silverbacks and the Carolina RailHawks, and a former stake in the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
Davidson spoke for the company in media interviews as recently as last week's Sport Innovation Summit in Mexico City.
Blogs by Hanching Chung
- ► 2017 (190)
- ► 2016 (313)
- 郭明政：軍公教年金不改革 台灣恐淪退撫亡國
- Fifa's Good Business
- 南韓Hydis員工現身台北市內抗議元太惡性關廠 Canon 併購 Axis Communicatio...
- 段宜康： 計程車團體發動500輛計程車（聽說每車補貼1500元），到機場抗議蔡英文
- 《蘋果》工會抗議 ：《蘋果》今宣布「《蘋果》12周年，全民爆料拿大獎，200萬等著你」
- Nike becomes suspected player in alleged $150 mill...
- John Nash’s Legacy Lives on in Business Strategy
- 台商大撤離 這次來真的！ (江上雲)
- GHP茶飲工廠不合格率高達6成 悅氏八種產品勒令停工、統一、光泉等不合格
- 漢能事件讓光伏業黯淡？(彭博商業周刊 / 中文版)
- 新生高弊案 4官商判無罪；任何組織的貪腐機會無所不在，如何防止是組織的基本責任:：008 「我們準備...
- Nike Women's Shoes, Clothing and Gear
- 大巨蛋驚爆柱子有缺 遠雄：少一根沒影響
- 大巨蛋大底工程 ；北市府勒令大巨蛋「立即停工」
- Workers Without Borders: (英文訪談) 為什麼全世界老外往新加坡找工作？
- 掛名"經理" “manager”就沒加班費嗎？
- Vial size changes can decrease the cost of vaccine...
- 醫糾法仍有許多漏洞，像忘了人性的「貪婪」..... (江博暉)
- 朱澤民︰地方虛編歲入 一開始就作假帳
- 政府被「打點」成集體貪汙機制 (南方朔)
- GUCCI等奢侈品牌 告阿里巴巴賣A貨
- 世界 "Executive” MBAs 排名
- Piggly Wiggly 連鎖
- 郝龍斌你閉嘴，...... 旅館類的促參案營運權利金 (林淑芬)
- 柯市府只管兩大方向，松菸轉讓給誠品 財政部認定違法； 科發基金宛如各部會小金庫；松菸案爭議有解 童子...
- 南方朔：中華民國苗栗化！ 柯P主張北纜停蓋 開發商：須合理賠償
- 「雄蛋」招標就公告零權利金；美國熱衷反腐代價高： Daft on graft
- 台北市： 廉政委員會 vs 肅貪中心：形式上合法，實質上極不合理的合約，是侵害了台北市民的權益
- " 台灣爭鮮違例加工鮭魚" 疑雲
- 高鐵香港段 貴絕全球
- 蔡英文等人訪義美實驗室 ；頂新律師團質疑義美品管
- 品牌的故事：Converse shoes: In the all star game
- 毒茶危食安 農委會茶葉雲更新竟還停在去年
- 「含淚營養午餐」 到爽吃燒肉雞米花
- 中國360防毒作弊： 全球三大防毒軟體評鑑機構聯合聲明撤銷中國360防毒所有認證
- ▼ 五月 (61)
- ► 2014 (529)
- ► 2013 (180)
- ► 2012 (275)
- ► 2011 (274)
- ► 2010 (170)
- ► 2009 (168)
- ► 2008 (214)