Counterfeits in the soccer industry - what you can do about it

Nov 30, 2021

The times of bad fakes are over; today's counterfeits are no longer as obvious as a cheap souvenir from a recent vacation. But how can the fakes be easily distinguished from the replica (not fake!) and authentic jerseys? More importantly, why do consumers buy fake merchandise, and how can it be prevented?

Fake vs. Replica vs. Authentic

Frist of all, replica does not mean fake! Replica is a cheaper version of the authentic jersey, but is still an officially licensed product. Replica is the fan version whereas the authentic version is the one players wear on the pitch.


As FC Bayern Munich shows on their official store website, the replica version (in the image just called “FCBayern Home Shirt 21/22”) is still made out of top-quality material, and the processing quality is also top notch; it is simply designed for different purposes. While the authentic one is designed to allow athletes to perform their very best, replicas are designed to give its wearer a comfortable time in the stadium or in front of the TV. Usually replicas are anywhere between 45% - 70%of the price of the authentic version.

So how can you tell fakes from originals? There are several different criteria that can be used to easily detect fakes.


Bad fakes are usually very easily detectable by their poor manufacturing quality. Messy stitching as well as cheap material are distinct features of counterfeits. Unfortunately, if you are buying online, the pictures will more often than not show a completely different product than what you will receive.


Price can be an obvious metric to discover fakes. To stay with the FC Bayern example, according to the official FC Bayern fan shop, their replica version is 71,96€ while the authentic version is 111,96€. Fakes meanwhile can oftentimes be bought for less than 10€. However, even a jersey for less than 40€ is, for most top clubs, oftentimes not a legitimate price and could be a sign that you are looking at a counterfeit.


Even if the fakes´ material is not easy to determine a fake, badges usually reveal the truth. Small details or even an entire missing badge on the arm, such as a league badge, can help you to spot the fake.


To be sure that you are buying original merchandise, the safest way is always to buy in the club´s fanshop. If you are shopping on a third party website or an online marketplace, you should always try to inform yourself about the seller. Look at ratings and customer reviews, and browse through their other listings. If you find anything fishy, there might be a chance you are about to buy a counterfeit.

Jerseys and other merchandise are not the only items being counterfeited in this day and age. Today, you can even see logos of organizations like FIFA or UEFA, fake apps, or even pictures or silhouettes of iconic sport trophies are being used illegally.

“Counterfeits or replicas of training kits, fashion items or other merchandise products and souvenirs are very popular and easy to shop online. Surveys show that 8%-15% of the closer fan base admits that they have bought a fake product knowingly. 65%-75% of them state they were happy with their purchased goods and would buy them again. The way lower price, is usually the main criteria why consumers decide to go for the fake. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw the number of fake products offered online exploding. The more important it is to prevent football clubs and organisations from sharing their revenue with product pirates.”

– Can Genc, Brand Protection Consultant at Sentryc GmbH

For the affected companies, it can be very difficult to tackle the issue. The traditional route of hiring a lawyer is costly and takes a long time until the counterfeit listings are offline; that is why we chose the approach to (slide-)tackle the online listings directly to take them down, so future harm can be prevented right away. The high automatization grade also allows us to play the Whac-A-Mole game with constant new listings under various names, so the same sellers cannot keep flying under the radar.

Get in touch with us today to show counterfeit sellers the red card and send them off the pitch!