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Buying a fake replica Barcelona shirt is very different from buying a counterfeit Louis Vuitton bag or iPhone charger, and could even help brand awareness, argues Stuart Fuller.
In 2012, the major professional sports leagues in the US lost more than $13 billion in revenue due to sales of counterfeit shirts and merchandise, including a whopping $3 billion alone by the 32 teams in the National Football League (NFL). Some top-end ‘authentic elite’ team shirts, which should retail for $250, could be found online with an 80 percent discount. These numbers, while staggering on their own, are just a drop in the ocean when we look at the total black economy, which runs annually into trillions of dollars.
In Europe, football means something very different from the American version. While the biggest NFL sides can expect to sell tens of thousands of shirts (neither official shirt supplier Nike nor the NFL will actually reveal numbers), unit sales for the best-selling franchise, 2014 Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks, pale into insignificance compared with the sales of current European Champions League winners Real Madrid, with more than 1.4 million shirts per annum, the vast majority now bearing the names of superstars Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale.
Hot on their heels are Manchester United and Barcelona, each selling more than a million shirts per annum. The top ten football clubs sell more than 7.5 million shirts across the globe every year, significantly more than the top ten clubs of any other sport.
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counterfeiting; branding; Super Bowl; ,Manchester United; Barcelona