FC Barcelona, One of the World's Biggest Sports Teams, Might Sue Nike Over Botched Replica Jerseys
One of the biggest sports teams in the world is potentially taking Nike to court over what it says are botched jerseys. FC Barcelona, the fourth-most valuable sports team in the world at a roughly $4 billion valuation, has had to put sales of its new Nike replica jerseys on hold after the colors started running whenever they come in contact with sweat or water. And it wants Nike to do more than just fix the jerseys.
Typically, teams that partner with Nike for uniforms have two versions available to the public. There's the Vapor Match version, the more expensive one with all the performance bells and whistles that players actually wear on the field. And there’s the “stadium” version, which is the one most fans get to wear to games and around the house. When Barcelona was set to release both versions, the franchise found that the stadium version jerseys were faulty, and had to put the sale on hold.
Barcelona expect a loss of €15M - €20M with the delay of shirt sales due to a manufacturing error. The club will seek compensation from Nike and if they don't agree, Barça will go to court. pic.twitter.com/4vXHgi9tvh
— infosfcb (@infosfcb) July 7, 2020
This, obviously, puts additional financial strain on a team already in a tough spot without revenue from ticket sales or in-stadium purchases.
Footy Headlines, citing Catalan sports paper Mundo Deportivo, reported that FC Barcelona's president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, has asked team executives to crunch the numbers and see just how much money it's losing by not being able to sell the jerseys now, and then ask Nike to cover the costs. If Nike refuses, Footy Headlines reported, Barcelona will take Nike to court.
A source “with knowledge of the situation” told the Financial Times that Barcelona is set to ask Nike for somewhere between 15 and 20 million Euros, equivalent to about 17 to 23 million U.S. dollars. Nike acknowledged the problem, but didn’t give a timetable as to when it will be fixed or whether it will pony up the money to Barca.
“We have identified an aesthetic change that is required in the FCB 2020-21 fan home jersey,” a Nike spokesperson told the Financial Times. “Once this is resolved, a date for the availability of this jersey will be announced.”
Barcelona is reportedly hoping it’s figured out in time for the UEFA Champions League to restart in August, which would be a big time for fans to buy the new shirt.
Nike is no stranger to this kind of situation, though. Back in 2017, at the beginning of its contract with the NBA as its new uniform supplier, jerseys were already ripping off the backs of players like LeBron James and Tyler Ennis.
But right now, Nike is in a different position. With the economic hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nike has reportedly posted a $790 million loss for the financial quarter ended in May, and is planning for layoffs in the fall as part of a restructuring.
The sportswear giant might not be as willing to cough up 20 million Euros to Barcelona as it would have been in the past.