On July 23, former NiP player Robin 'Fifflaren' Johansson went public about many of the negative experiences he had while contracted to the organization, which included non-payment of prize money and going against player wishes to remove him from the team.
Following his tell-all interview, several other former NiP players and staff came forward to speak of their negative experiences representing the Swedish esports company, challenging the notion that these were problems of a bygone era.
A recurring name in the middle of these allegations was the NiP CEO Hicham Chahine. In response to Johansson’s interview he released a written statement addressing some of the claims and asked “that anyone else that feels mistreated by the organization in the past give us a chance to address their concerns.”
He also spoke of how the organization was now run by a “new management team” and had been since 2016. This was challenged by Johansson publicly as documents show that Chahine has been involved on an ownership and managerial level since at least 2014.
On August 5, Johansson has also released some NiP internal emails from 2014 and 2015 that appear to show Chahine signing player contracts and calling for weekly meetings, suggesting he held an active management role at that time.
Since 10+ (There will be more) Have come out against @ChahineHicham doesn't seem to have worked, maybe internal emails from 2014 and 2015 does? Hard to think just an "investor" signs player contracts and asks for weekly meetings with rest of management? pic.twitter.com/buZFP4o2cP— Robin Johansson (@Fifflaren) August 5, 2019
The resulting negative publicity seems to have led to Chahine leaving the board of directors of Swedish gaming peripheral company XTRFY who are one of NiP’s title sponsors and have been since 2015. The information, that is available through the website Creditsafe, shows that Chahine left the board on the July 28.
No official statement has been made by either Chahine or by XTRFY as to why this is. However, after confirming the validity of the move with a source close to the situation they added: “the negative publicity hasn’t been great for NiP as a brand and they do not want that to apply to them because of Chahine’s involvement.” Although he has left the board, Chahine still owns 50% of XTRFY and there’s no indication that he intends to sell.
Chahine also holds a position on the executive board of the World Esports Association (WESA), the controversial would-be governing body of esports that sprung out of ESL. WESA describes its goals as seeking to “further professionalize esports by introducing elements of player representation, standardized regulations, and revenue shares for teams.” They too have yet to release a statement about the allegations made towards Chahine and NiP, which should be especially concerning to them since as it was said that he pushed staff who had issues with NiP towards WESA as an arbitrary body.
No doubt XTRFY will be waiting to see where this story goes before making a decision about their long term relationship with the NiP brand. It now seems it would be a decision that Chahine himself would not play an official part in.