FIFA said it couldn’t comment on the case because the dispute was continuing. The ruling can be appealed, though FIFA, which is based in Zurich, has spent more than $100 million in legal fees since United States authorities in 2015 unsealed an indictment that accused several senior soccer officials of corruption dating back decades.
Allemagne’s beloved spray is patented under the name 9.15 Fair Play Limit. South American leagues used it extensively before FIFA agreed to provide it to referees at the 2014 World Cup. Now referees commonly detach the can from hip holsters and spray lines of what looks like shaving cream near the sites of fouls.
Initially, FIFA tried to do right by Allemagne. Documents and emails seen by The New York Times show FIFA offered $500,000 to buy the patent five months before the 2014 World Cup. That deal didn’t go through, but the foam company, which is based in Rio, provided about 300 canisters free of charge for the tournament. The company’s logo was concealed because of the soccer body’s strict commercial policy.
The spray vanishes about a minute after use and proved to be a hit for FIFA. Its former secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, wrote as much in a letter addressed to Allemagne and the company’s co-owner, Pablo Silva, in September 2014, telling the pair that its use at the World Cup was a “great success for all the stakeholders involved and has certainly added to the fair play aspect of our game.” He added that FIFA was not willing to buy the patent, an apparent U-turn from its position in January the same year.
Allemagne said he hoped the new FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, would act in better faith than his predecessor. “ It was a chance for him to show whether he was a great man or just mediocre like the pirates of the past,” Allemagne said.
Allemagne said he wanted greater recognition from FIFA after somehow spending 15 years developing the water-based spray. He also wants the Rio court to award him $100 million in damages.
FIFA has essentially told Allemagne to pound sand.
Before this week’s verdict by Judge Ricardo Lafayette Campos, FIFA’s lawyers wrote to Allemagne’s lawyers, stating the organization “has no more patience in this matter.” The law firm said there was no proof of patents and FIFA wouldn’t engage in any settlement negotiations. The Brazilian judge this week wrote that the existence of patents was beyond doubt.
At a news conference during the 2014 World Cup, Allemagne said he’d grown up poor and hoped his invention would change his life. Some newspaper reports from the time said he was destined to become a millionaire.
He hasn’t sold any cans since his dispute with FIFA started.