Authorities Warn of Counterfeiters Ahead of Premier League Soccer Match

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Houston, the Houston Police Department (HPD), and the Premier League are cautioning fans to be on the lookout for counterfeit merchandise and tickets during the upcoming Premier League preseason soccer match between Manchester City and Club America on July 20 at NRG Park in Houston.

Counterfeiters routinely target major sporting venues and other entertainment events such as the Premier League soccer match to illegally sell counterfeit apparel, merchandise, and tickets.

“Public-private sector partnerships are the key to success at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center),” said Jim Mancuso, IPR Center director. “By joining forces, HSI, CBP, and the Premier League are working together to ensure soccer fans around the world spending their hard-earned money to support their favorite club only receive genuine, high quality, officially licensed merchandise in return.”

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“CBP is vigilant in its efforts to intercept counterfeit and pirated goods aimed at lining the pockets of transnational criminal organizations while taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers and businesses,” said Houston CBP Director of Field Operations Jud Murdock. “We take every opportunity to join our law enforcement partners in seeking out and disrupting the flow of illegitimate goods especially ahead of a major sporting event like the upcoming Premiere League soccer match, here.”

To help consumers avoid becoming victims of counterfeiting during the soccer match in Houston, authorities are encouraging the public to exercise due diligence when purchasing merchandise or tickets that might be counterfeit. Specifically, fans are encouraged to:

  • Shop only at authorized retail locations, rather than street vendors, flea markets or other questionable sources.
  • Avoid purchasing items where the price seems too good to be true. (On average, official replica jerseys should be priced at $90. If they are discounted by 30 percent or higher, they are likely to be counterfeit.)
  • Check for poor stitching, ripped tags, irregular markings, or misspellings on apparel.
  • Ensure items have the official Club branded packaging with labels, tags, and hologram.
  • Always purchase tickets directly from the soccer club or from an authorized vendor/partner.

HSI works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement through Operation Team Player, a year-round effort developed by the IPR Center meant to crack down on the illegal importation of counterfeit sports apparel and entertainment merchandise. Last year, between February 2021 and February 2022, the IPR Center seized more than 267,511 counterfeit sports-related items worth an estimated $97.8 million during Operation Team Player.

For more than two decades, the IPR Center, working collaboratively with its public-private sector partners, has led the effort in the government’s response to combat global intellectual property theft and enforce intellectual property rights violations. The center was established to combat global intellectual property theft—and, accordingly, has a significant role in policing the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods on websites, social media, and the dark web.

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