Nike facing Competitions Commission complaint over Springbok jersey

Nike facing Competitions Commission complaint over Springbok jersey

Global sportswear giants Nike are facing a Competitions Commission complaint over its refusal to give the green light to several independent retail outlets in South Africa to sell Springbok jerseys.

SA Rugby announced a six-year contract with the American brand to supply the national team with playing kits as well as additional apparel away from the field for the Boks across male, female and junior sides almost exactly 12 months ago, following the end of their agreement with ASICS.

While the rest of the country has been in a frenzy, rushing to the stores to join the 2023 Rugby World Cup euphoria in France, especially after the defending champions won their opener against Scotland on Sunday, a few independent sportswear suppliers are losing out. 

SABC Sport has seen correspondence between the retailers, Competitions Commission as well as Nike, but cannot name the parties that have filed the complaint for fear of victimisation.

Their grievance is that Nike is violating the Competition Act by only agreeing exclusive distribution of the shirts with TotalSports, Studio 88, and Sportsmans Warehouse at the price of R1400 per jersey. 

According to the plaintiffs, ASICS did not have this restrictive arrangement during their partnership with SA Rugby. 

The independent retailers want all South Africans to have access to the national team jersey at a reasonable and affordable price, and all have a reputation of selling quality products as well as orders from the business sector they now cannot fulfil because of Nike’s refusal to give them access. 

In response, the American sportswear giant has made it clear these suppliers are not authorised to distribute corporate sales on behalf of Nike, and this can only be reviewed nine months down the line or during the off-season.

With this being a World Cup year, and the Nike deal with the Springboks stretching up to the 2027 global showpiece in Australia, the current stance is affecting their bottom line, with the Competitions Commission seemingly their last resort. 

Contacted for comment, SA Rugby referred all questions to Nike, whose stance has still not changed to date.

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