Nike says cooperating with FIFA scandal probe

NEW YORK: US sportswear giant Nike said Wednesday it was cooperating with the investigation into corruption at global football body FIFA, after court documents pointed to its involvement in the scandal.

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“We have been cooperating, and will continue to cooperate, with the authorities,” the company said, after the US Justice Department indicted 14 FIFA officials and sports marketing executives over bribery.

Nike was neither directly named nor accused in the case.

But one of the indictments, against Brazilian sportsmarketer Jose Hawilla and his Traffic Group, charged that Hawilla paid kickbacks to a senior Brazilian and FIFA soccer official after arranging in 1996 for an unnamed major US sportswear company to sponsor Brazil’s national soccer federation and national team.

Nike’s bold capture of the 10 year sponsorship deal in 1996, two years after Brazil won the World Cup, is well known as the brash US company’s landmark entry into global football sponsorship, challenging German powerhouse Adidas.

Nike gave no details on how it is involved in the case announced by the US Justice Department Wednesday.

“Like fans everywhere we care passionately about the game and are concerned by the very serious allegations,” the company said.

“Nike believes in ethical and fair play in both business and sport and strongly opposes any form of manipulation or bribery.”


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