WESA to probe into NiP allegations
The World Esports Association (WESA) has announced that it is conducting an independent investigation into the claims put forward by former NiP players and staff members against the organisation and current CEO Hicham Chahine.
The investigation has been launched by Mr. Ian Smith, a sports lawyer and Commissioner of the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC), and will be concluded by the end of the month, after which a statement outlining his findings will be issued.
The news follows a series of scathing accusations made by Robin "Fifflaren" Johansson in a lengthy interview with Richard Lewis. The 31-year-old, who was part of the NiP roster that dominated the CS:GO scene during the early days and that would go on to win the ESL One Cologne 2014 Major, claimed that the organisation withheld prize money from the players and included unfair clauses in the contracts, including one that allowed them to release team members at any time.
His allegations were backed up by former teammates Richard "Xizt" Landström and Adam "friberg" Friberg - with some ex-staff members then chiming in to share some horror stories from their own time in the organisation.
NiP CEO Hicham Chahine issued a statement claiming that "all outstanding financial obligations" towards Fifflaren had been settled on "September 20 2016", adding that the new management - which allegedly took over in June 2016 - had been hard at work to "put lingering issues from the past right".
However, such claims were slammed by Fifflaren, who released messages from 2016 showing that Mr. Chahine had ignored him when he asked for help to pay his taxes. He also leaked internal documents from 2014 and 2015 that seem to contradict Mr. Chahine's version that he had no involvement in the day-to-day operations before June 2016.
More recently, Fifflaren turned his attention to Counter-Strike legend and former NiP CEO Emil "HeatoN" Christensen. In a series of tweets, he accused HeatoN of lying in court, using the team's prize money to pay for his lawyer and hiring his then-girlfriend to work for the organisation and offering her a salary higher than any of the players. Fifflaren also released two emails showing that HeatoN was attempting to get out of paying taxes and considering withholding the players' sticker money.
In a statement issued this morning, NiP revealed that they "have resolved" nine of the ten cases dating back to 2014 of people reaching out to the organisation with claims about being mistreated, and are "working on finalizing the last case we have on hand."
"We will still keep all our channels open, for anyone that feels they have been wronged throughout the history of Ninjas in Pyjamas, to reach out," the Swedish organisation added.
"We welcome your outreach and want to engage in a productive dialogue to resolve any outstanding issues. We want to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to former players, employees and volunteers who have felt mistreated, and will be developing better internal processes and work methodology going forward for a better NIP.
"When we joined WESA along with our fellow teams, we signed a Code of Conduct and compliance framework that we take very seriously. We welcome WESA’s investigation and will work with them to ensure it is as thorough as possible, including providing access to records, documents and individuals as needed. As per WESA procedures, this investigation will be held independently and the findings will be made public at its conclusion."
Created in May 2016 to regulate the competitive scene, WESA currently has 13 members, with NiP being one of the founding organisations. Mr. Chahine is currently part of the federation's executive board, which was expanded to six representatives in January to allow for an improved representation of the WESA members around the globe.
Mr. Smith asked anyone willing to provide relevant information regarding these allegations against NiP to contact him at email@example.com.
Update: This story has been updated with NiP's statement on the allegations against the organisation and WESA's ongoing investigation.