Red card for counterfeits: Effective means against the flood of fake World Cup jerseys
Published On: November 22nd, 2022
The World Cup is not only the sports highlight of the year for soccer fans, but also a major sales event for sporting goods manufacturers and retailers. Months before the opening match kicks off, the first World Cup-related products are already on display in (online) stores around the globe. Traditionally, the official DFB jersey is one of the bestsellers. Around three million shirtswere sold at each of the last two championshipsin 2014 and 20181. Counterfeiters benefit from the enormous demand. The cheap copies in circulation today are professionally produced and virtually indistinguishable from the original to the naked eye. Accordingly, combating product piracy in the sporting goods trade proves a major challenge. Brand protection expert Thomas Weiss from Authentic Vision explains how to tackle professional counterfeiting.
Salzburg, 22. November 2022. Fans who want to support the German national football team in the official jersey of the DFB2 have to pay between 90 and 140 euros for the current edition. The price difference results from the two basic models of the jersey offered by adidas, the official outfitter of the DFB team. “Replica shirts” are meant for everyday use and less expensive than “authentic shirts”, the high-quality sportswear version of the jersey. However, both models are part of the official merchandise and usually, a quick inspection reveals the distinguishing features only to the eye of the connoisseur. Retailers offer the jerseys a little cheaper than the official fanshop of the German team. Bargain hunters are particularly happy about discount campaigns on the Internet, especially during major events such as the Football World Cup. However, many shoppers only notice that these are usually counterfeit products after the first wash cycle: The seams come undone, the print comes off, and the T-shirt is one dress size smaller.
“Across all industries, counterfeit products have gained tremendously in professionalism in recent years. More often than not they are virtually indistinguishable from the original to the naked eye. This also applies to supposedly ‘genuine’ World Cup jerseys,” explains Thomas Weiss, CEO of Authentic Vision. The company specializes in mobile authentication solutions ready for use wherever the real world is connected to the digital world. “Currently, the most prominent use case of our Meta Anchor technology is brand protection, with a broad variety of clients and goods all over the world. The basic idea is to equip a physical product with a counterfeit-proof label that can be scanned via smartphone, thus confirming the authenticity of the product.”
From fan article to collector’s item
The use of the technology is particularly suitable for high-turnover markets such as the sporting goods industry. The industry loses 6.5 percent of its annual sales annually to counterfeit products. The resulting losses amount to around half a billion euros and almost 5,800 jobs lost3. In the run-up to major events such as the World Cup, counterfeiters are particularly active. In the seven months leading up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, for example, the host country confiscated copied merchandise worth more than five million euros. Those fakes included – in a period of just eleven days – 27,000 counterfeit jerseys worth almost 800,000 euros4.
“However, Meta-Anchor technology can be used not only to protect retail sports merchandise from product piracy, but also to verify the authenticity of collectibles. For example, memorabilia from sporting events,” Thomas Weiss continues. This application is particularly relevant for NFTs that are linked to a physical object – such as the autographed jersey of winning goal scorer Mario Götze from the 2014 World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro.
About Authentic Vision:
Authentic Vision provides anti-counterfeiting and authentication technologies designed to protect your organization’s investments in product innovation, brand value, and reputation while creating new opportunities to increase trust and engagement with consumers. Authentic Vision’s patented Meta Anchor™-technology, Holographic Fingerprint™ tag, mobile authentication app, and real-time analytics capabilities protect physical assets from counterfeiting and alert brand and product owners to potential fraudulent activity. These anti-counterfeiting and authentication technologies help to minimize lost revenues and mitigate liability due to counterfeits and create new opportunities to engage with consumers through loyalty programs, incentives and future experiences that bridge the digital and physical.