FIFA World Cup sponsors involved in list of top 10 soccer-related losses

By Chad Hemenway on June 26, 2014

With the FIFA World Cup taking over the universe (including the Advisen office televisions), we decided to take a look at soccer-related losses in our database. The brain trust in our data department shifted through our cases to come up with the following list to the top soccer (some apparently call it football)-related losses.

Adidas, a sponsor of the World Cup, sued Payless Shoesource Inc. for violating federal and state trademark laws as well as unfair competition and violations of various state deceptive trade practices. Payless, according to our records, in the 1990s began making shoes with what looked a lot like Adidas’ familiar stripes on the side. Adidas has uses three stripes.

Payless used a two- and four-stripe design and disputed the charges but a jury found all but one of its many shoe models infringed on Adidas’ trademark. Worse for the Topeka, Kan.-based retailer, the jury also found it acted in bad faith and awarded Adidas $304.6 million is disgorged profits, royalties and punitive damages.

FIFA’s appearance on the list results from a dispute with MasterCard International. The financial services corporation from Purchase, NY sued FIFA for breach of a sponsorship agreement for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup. MasterCard the breach occurred when FIFA gave a competitor, Visa International, sponsorship rights.

MasterCard, a sponsor of the tournament for 16 years, settled with FIFA for nearly $90 million.

Johnson & Johnson and McNeil are on the list because a 16-year-old boy took some Motrin to relieve pain after playing soccer and had a severe reaction–a rare skin disorder.

Soccer makes up about 6.3 percent of sport-related claims. Not surprisingly, football produces the most cases. Surprisingly, golf is next.

Recalls are behind the most sports-related cases in Advisen’s database. Injuries or deaths at sports venues account for the second-most cases.

Cases involving sport-related industries dropped in 2013 from an all-time high of about 135 in 2012.

Chad Hemenway is Managing Editor of Advisen News. He has more than 15 years of journalist experience at a variety of online, daily, and weekly publications. He has covered P&C insurance news since 2007, and he has experience writing about all P&C lines as well as regulation and litigation. Chad won a Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Single Article in 2014 for his coverage of the insurance implications of traumatic brain injuries and Best News Coverage in 2013 for coverage of Superstorm Sandy. Contact Chad at 212.897.4824 or [email protected].