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UnReal Madrid: Fake Soccer Jerseys Get a Red Card

Counterfeit soccer gear worth more than $1 million was seized by federal authorities before jerseys for Arsenal, Chelsea and the Real Madrid football clubs, among others, could reach a Chamblee address.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials seized a shipment of soccer gear worth more than $1 million at the port of Savannah before it could be shipped to a Chamblee address. Credit: U.S. Customs
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials seized a shipment of soccer gear worth more than $1 million at the port of Savannah before it could be shipped to a Chamblee address. Credit: U.S. Customs

A shipment of counterfeit soccer gear worth more than $1 million was seized by federal authorities before the jerseys for some of the sport’s most popular international clubs -- Arsenal, Chelsea and the Real Madrid football clubs, among others – could reach Georgia stores.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, their investigators in Savannah, Ga., seized the bogus soccer apparel on April 11. The shipment was apparently bound for Chamblee, GA.

“Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threatens America’s innovation economy, the competitiveness of our businesses, the livelihoods of U.S. workers, the economic security of our country, and in some cases, the health and safety of consumers,” said Reginald Manning, Customs and Border Protection’s director of field operations in Atlanta. “Together with our enforcement partners, Customs and Border Protection continues to guard the nation’s borders against counterfeit products.”

The shipment arrived from China March 12. It contained 390 cartons of soccer T-shirts, socks, shorts and other merchandise that was destined to an address in Chamblee.

Federal authorities placed an inspection hold on the shipment and had the container trucked to a central examination station. That’s when investigators discovered several T-shirts bearing patches of professional soccer clubs and detained the shipment for trademark verification.

The apparel, which has a suggested retail price of $1,016,399, represented Arsenal, Barcelona, Celtic, Chelsea, Mexican Federation, Paris Saint-Germain, and Real Madrid football clubs.

Federal authorities asked that the importer’s broker submit authorization letters from the respective trademark holders to import their branded items, but on March 27 the broker said  the importer did not have authorization.

Over the next week, representatives from Arsenal, Celtic, and Chelsea football clubs reported to Customs officials that samples of the merchandise bearing their brand was counterfeit. Federal officials then officially seized the shipment.

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