An indictment released by the Department of Justice on Wednesday alleging a widespread culture of corruption at soccer’s highest levels may involve a U.S. sportswear company, according to the Washington Post. Though the company is not identified, the indictment mentions a ten-year, $160 million sponsorship deal with the Brazilian soccer team in 1996, which closely resembles a deal involving Nike from that year.
This week, the Justice Department unsealed an indictment against nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives, accusing them of illicitly profiting from the sale of lucrative media and marketing rights for major soccer tournaments, according to a press release. By bribing FIFA officials with more than $150 million over the past 24 years, the Justice Department contends, marketing executives secured lucrative contracts for broadcasting networks and corporate sponsors seeking to promote their brands.
Among other charges, investigators say that, in 1996, a “major U.S. sportswear company” agreed to pay Traffic Brazil, a sports marketing conglomerate, for additional “marketing fees” following a sponsorship deal with the Brazilian team. Prosecutors say these fees amounted to tens of millions of dollars in bribes over the next three years.
Nike is “concerned by the very serious allegations,” a representative for the company said in a statement to the Post, adding that the company is cooperating with the authorities and “strongly opposes any form of manipulation or bribery.”