The European Union fined Nike $14 million for violating antitrust rules for allegedly preventing many of its licensees from selling soccer team merchandise across European borders.
According to the European Commission, Nike imposed illegal licensing deals on merchandise from clubs such as FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus, Inter Milan and AS Roma, as well as national federations including World Cup winners France. The agency charged that the move left shoppers with fewer choices and higher prices.
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement, “Football fans often cherish branded products from their favorite teams, such as jerseys or scarves. Nike prevented many of its licensees from selling these branded products in a different country leading to less choice and higher prices for consumers. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. Today’s decision makes sure that retailers and consumers can take full advantage of one of the main benefits of the Single Market: the ability to shop around Europe for a larger variety of products and for the best deals.”
Nike obtained a 40 percent reduction from an initial figure in return for its cooperation with the commission, which opened its investigation in June 2017 over practices that took place over 13 years.