Thousands of fake sporting goods intercepted ahead of 2014 World Cup

10 June 2014
Brussels, 10 June 2014  

Press Release  

Thousands of counterfeit sporting goods were intercepted during an international enforcement operation in the run up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, with the active participation of Customs administrations from seven Latin American countries.  

Coordinated by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the operation was supported by the European Union (EU), the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), and the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) and the Federation of the Brazilian Sporting Goods Industry (MOVE).   

Sports events are big business and the spin-off sales from marketing merchandise are worth millions; however, with such riches on offer, it is little surprise that the Football World Cups, Olympics, and other popular international sporting events are prime targets for brand pirates.   

Counterfeit, sub-standard and unauthorized merchandise, including illegitimate and improper use of logos and trademarks, severely burden businesses and Customs officials, as they attempt to stop their use and prevent these goods reaching the market before major competitions begin.   

Code-named ‘Gol 14’, the one week operation, which took place at the end of March 2014, resulted in about 750,000 counterfeit items being intercepted, among which more than 520,000 items were related to the sporting goods industry, including clothing, sportswear and sports accessories.   

It might seem harmless to buy a knock-off item; after all, the originals are out of reach for most who are longing for a real designer label or souvenir, but there is a more sinister side of this illegal industry, with counterfeiting being far more harmful than it appears.   

As original jerseys and footwear for the World Cup are being manufactured by producers in Brazil and its neighbours, creating employment and uplifting local economies; the trade in counterfeit goods, however, produces no real benefits for a local economy, but does impose considerable costs on workers and the community.   

For Brazil, the fight against counterfeiting is considered an essential part of the country’s drive to protect its consumers. In addition, counterfeit goods are increasingly seen as a threat to legitimate Brazilian businesses and endangers the country's path towards a more knowledge-based economy.   

The protection of trademarks and other intellectual property rights (IPR) is also crucial for the EU, whose companies have invested heavily in research, design and marketing of their products – Brazil and the EU have a regular dialogue on IPR, and have vowed to step up their cooperation in this field.   

Prior to the operation, Customs officers were trained in risk analysis techniques and to recognize the technical characteristics of products likely to be counterfeited. The training was provided by WCO experts and supported by officials from the sporting goods industry, FIFA, the European Union, as well as the Brazilian authorities.   

Media enquiries:
WCO – Laure Tempier, Tel. +32 2 209 94 41, email:
FESI – Raluca Giurgiu, Tel : 32 2 762 86 48, email :