The Nike logo on Chile’s jerseys was covered with a patch of the Chilean flag when they played on Friday against Bolivia. Chile’s coaches and staff covered the Nike logo on their shirts and pants with tape as they protest against a contract dispute between Nike and the Chilean football federation.
The team will play without a kit sponsor for the remainder of the tournament, as Chile’s National Association of Professional Football (ANFP, by its Spanish acronym) takes Nike to court. According to Chile media reports, the ANFP alleges that Nike ended their multi-million dollar agreement two weeks ago without any prior communication.
Nike has allegedly withheld payments, including those for merchandise sales, from July 2019 to July 2020 as Chile’s senior national team did not play the minimum of 10 matches per year as mentioned in their contract. Chile played its last game of 2019, a friendly against Guinea in Spain, on October 15, 2019.
Due to social unrest that took hold of Chile that month and the spread of COVID-19 across the world, they did not play again until the World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in October 2020. Nike and the ANFP, which alleges that Nike owes about $6 million of a $7 million per year deal, and have been involved in court proceedings a few months before the tournament began.
Nike and Chile had an eight-year contract which around $56 million that began after Copa America 2015 and was to continue till the World Cup in Qatar. Before partnering with Nike, Chile made a reported $2.5 million per year over five years from a kit deal from rivals Puma.
Nike could potentially be in trouble as they continue to recede in the world’s favourite sport. Smaller nations could look at this from a negative perspective and it could even open an opportunity for its rivals like Adidas and Puma to gain more national teams under their belt. But with Nike’s clout and world-renowned marketing, it is unlikely that it will be a very big blow to the American Giant.