The announcement that a group of FIFA officials, marketing execs and others had been indicted on corruption charges from Swiss and U.S. authorities absolutely rocked the international sports world. Now, FIFA isn’t the only one with a PR problem.
Tucked into the marathon press conference that the U.S. Justice Department held Wednesday was that one of the offenses in the 47-page indictment was linked to “agreements regarding sponsorship of the Brazilian national soccer team by a major U.S. sportswear company.” Nike sponsors the Brazilian national team.
Here’s what happened: Last year, a sports marketing firm owner pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges for accepting bribes for the Nike/Brazil partnership. That person, Jose Hawilla, was merely the broker of the deal. Details are sketchy on his relationship with Nike and the Brazilian national team. Still, Nike was indirectly mentioned during an indictment. That’s never good.
It was enough to warrant a statement from the company, which sent this message to The Huffington Post: