INFORMATION has emerged that renowned United States (US) kit sponsor Nike could not renew the Chipolopolo kit sponsorship deal as it was making losses because some Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) officials allegedly ‘‘contracted’’ a rival Chinese firm to reproduce Nike replica jerseys.
Sources at FAZ have revealed that the Chinese deal was engineered by a senior official who allegedly authorised it as proceeds directly went into a few individuals’ pockets who were part of the syndicate.
The deal with Nike expired in August 2014 and Chipolopolo have been subjected to a mix of brands, while forcing the team to wear a replicated outfit done by the same Chinese company at times.
“The Nike deal was lost because of giving one person to reproduce the kit from China and the sales being shared among individuals. Zambia now has no kit supplier because we lost the Nike deal because of corruption,” said the source.
The source said Nike was the best deal as Zambia was the only African team dressed by the famous American sports wear manufacturer. “In the March annual general meeting, K220, 000 was almost allocated to purchase replicas yet the association had not benefitted from these sales but only a few greedy individuals. It is believed that the failed plan brought tension among beneficiaries,” he said. However, FAZ has refuted the allegation and indicated that the last Nike consignment was received two months ago.
FAZ communications manager Nkweto Tembwe said FAZ had at no time reproduced any Nike replica jerseys or kit in China. He said such allegations were coming from individuals that wanted to disturb the good works of the executive.
“It is surprising that people keep bringing up issues since the partnership with Nike came to an end. Stories like this is the reason the Chipolopolo are no longer looking good.
“Nike has not been generating power to FAZ, so the light goes off. But that does not mean that once the deal ends, then you throw away everything. We received the last consignment barely two months ago, hence there is no truth in it,” Tembwe said.
FAZ two weeks ago announced that the 10-year partnership with Nike had ended and will soon unveil another sponsor. Club licencing manger Erick Mwanza had mentioned that they may strike a deal with Puma, Umbro and Warrior or renew the contract with Nike.