Feds seize $123m of fake gear in Super Bowl 54 build-up

US government agencies seized around $123m-worth of counterfeit clothing and merchandise for teams playing in the Super Bowl ahead of the big game in Miami yesterday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement that federal officials had intercepted more than 176,000 items in Operation team Player in the weeks and months building up to the final between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.

The haul was a significant step up on the $24m-worth of fake goods seized in last year’s operation, and included jerseys, jewellery, hats, cell-phone accessories and “thousands of other bogus items prepared to be sold to unsuspecting consumers,” according to ICE.

Working with the National football League (NFL) and Miami police, the US federal agencies targeted lea markets, retail outlets and street vendors selling counterfeit goods, focusing particularly on activity in the week leading up to this year’s event.

This year’s record-breaking operation protects “American consumers, the economy, and legitimate business, by ensuring Super Bowl 54 is not compromised by transnational criminal networks exploiting fan enthusiasm for illicit profits,” commented Steve Francis of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) intellectual property rights (IPR) centre.

“Sports fans from around the world, who’ve spent their hard-earned money to support their favourite NFL team, deserve to receive genuine, high-quality officially licensed merchandise in return,” he added.

Kansas won the contest by 31 to 20 after pulling off a sensational comeback in the fourth quarter, giving the team their first Super Bowl win in 50 years.

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