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The UEFA football European Championships 2016 has kicked off, but while most have been enjoying the excitement on the pitch, it has once again highlighted the fact that the fight against counterfeiters is one that rumbles on and presents significant risks to businesses.
In March this year, UEFA issued a warning to football fans to only purchase tickets for the tournament, which is being held in France, through official channels, amid reports of the widespread circulation of fakes on the black market.
The problem doesn’t stop at the tickets though.
Fake football shirts and football boots, which are widely sold in major cities across the world and are just two examples, are an ongoing bugbear for manufacturers such as Nike and Adidas, but come to even greater prominence during a tournament such as this.
Just before the Euros commenced, French customs officers seized 1,200 fake Spanish football shirts at Calais port terminal, after they crossed the Channel from England. This came two months after 6,000 fake footballs and jerseys were seized from a container vessel in Le Havre port back in April.
In total, counterfeit goods are estimated to cost the European sports industry around €500m and 2,800 jobs every year.
But, it is a problem that runs much wider and deeper than just the sports industry.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that up to 10% of global pharmaceuticals are counterfeit, with the impact of those costing lives and the industry itself around $46bn a year.
The electronics industry is another that is affected by counterfeits with recycled, refurbished, or re-marked components widely available.
There are a number of risks for businesses and their procurement functions here. First is the reputational damage that it can wrought, second is the added costs that at it can bring and third is the impact it can have on corporate social responsibility efforts with counterfeit suppliers less concerned about the impact they have on the environment and work place standards.
So, what can be done? Governments and other authorities should certainly take more responsibility and that is what is happening at the European Championships where French customs officials have stepped up checks around stadiums for fake merchandise.
Businesses should also come together to do share best practice and intelligence on counterfeit suppliers. This was a call that was echoed at a recent International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition conference. Directors here warned brands that they cannot afford to wait for governments to fix the problem and called on more of them to work together to stop fake goods before they can leave the factory or be posted online.
Get that right and businesses will be on the right track to tackling this issue once and for all.
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.
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