At World Cup, Nigeria’s stylish soccer jersey wins fans — and fakes

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then Nike should be pleased. Surging demand for the fashion hit of the World Cup — Nigeria’s soccer jersey — is spawning counterfeits.

Since the uniform was unveiled in February, five months before the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Russia, Nigeria’s Super Eagles soccer team was scoring points with both fans and more casual watchers of the “beautiful game.”

Designed by Nike, the neon green and white zig-zag jersey piled up as many as 3 million pre-orders, according to Nigeria’s soccer federation. After selling out on the sports giant’s website within hours of release and creating round-the-block lines outside Nike stores, the jersey is now fetching nearly twice its $90 retail price on the secondary market.

Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa celebrates his team’s second goal during the group D match between Nigeria and Iceland at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd, Russia, Friday, June 22, 2018.

Darko Vojinovic / AP

Filling the void are international bootleggers selling counterfeits across the globe, with fans showing up in knockoff jerseys at a pre-World Cup game a week before the official shirt’s release

A Lagos-based businessman with dealings in counterfeit jerseys since 2011 told Quartz that demand exceeds that of the last World Cup jersey by about “1,000 percent.” 

In Nigeria, the official jersey is out of reach for many people, in part due to its price and because of limited production, prompting a song lauding the fake jerseys.

The singer and social media star known as Teni sings “it’s nobody’s business” what type of jersey she’s wearing in the song “Fake Jersey,” now on rotation on Lagos radio stations, according to the AFP.

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