Police have seized £500,000 of fake football shirts ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

The City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), along with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), co-ordinated a series of raids across the country – arresting six people and seizing £12,000 in cash.

Officers seized four tonnes of the fake jerseys in raids in Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, and Northampton.

Four premises were raided in Leeds, with officers seizing a large quantity of fake England shirts, Fifa World Cup badges and £2,000 in cash.

While in Sheffield, officers seized fakes from a storage facility and £10,000 in cash from a residential premises.

Together the Leeds and Sheffield merchandise was estimated by police to be valued at £250,000.

Similarly, raids were carried out in Bristol and Northampton, with a further £250,000 of counterfeit shirts seized.

Detective Sergeant Matthew Hussey, from City of London Police’s intellectual property crime unit (PIPCU) said police “regularly see” connections between the counterfeit goods trade and organised criminal groups. He urged football fans to “think twice” before buying fake merchandise.

Marcus Evans, deputy director of intelligence and law enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office, said that criminal gangs are seeking to exploit football fans’ support for their favourite teams.

“As football fans get ready to support their favourite team at the World Cup, criminal networks are seeking to exploit their loyalty for their own financial gain by targeting the market with illegal counterfeit products – with little or no regard for their quality or safety,” he said.

“We are pleased to support the intensified enforcement activity to clamp down on the sale of such illicit goods, working in partnership to help protect the public from this type of crime.”

Police added that those arrested have since been released under investigation.