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Ahead of FIFA World Cup, Nike Withdraws Supply of Boots to Iran Squad After US Sanctions

The incident also sparked outrage on social media, with several Iranians starting a campaign to boycott Nike products.

Updated:June 14, 2018, 3:33 PM IST
New Delhi: Sportswear giant Nike said it had withdrawn its supply of boots to Iranian footballers ahead of the World Cup because of new US sanctions.

“US sanctions mean that as a US company, Nike cannot supply shoes to players in the Iranian national team at this time,” the company said in a statement published by ESPN.

“Sanctions applicable to Nike have been in place for many years and are enforceable by law.”

The background of the decision is that last month, President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

He vowed to re-impose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.

Nike’s decision has frustrated Iranian players, with head coach Carlos Queiroz asking FIFA to “help” his players.

Queiroz, who has formerly coached Portugal and Real Madrid, said: “Players get used to their sports equipment, and it’s not right to change them a week before such important matches.

“We are only managers and footballers, and should not get involved in such matters. But we are asking FIFA to help us with this.”

The incident also sparked outrage on social media, with several Iranians starting a campaign to boycott Nike products.

“When Iran refuses to play against Israel it is political interference in sports, but when Nike refuses to supply boots to Iranian players due to sanctions, Fifa doesn't say a word,” said a user on Twitter.

In a widely-shared video, an Iranian man, who described himself as a dentist, threw a pair of Nike shoes in a bin, saying the company’s decision was “an insult to my people and all football lovers”.

However, some Iranians came to Nike’s defence, saying as a private US company, it had no other choice.

“Nike is a private company and its only objective is to satisfy its shareholders. It is normal that it is withdrawing its supply of boots to Iran for fear of economic penalties,” tweeted one user.

With little time to react, Iran’s players have taken several steps to make sure they are equipped to play.

While some have asked non-Iranian players on their club teams to loan them boots, others have had friends acquire them or have simply gone out and bought their own footwear at stores.

However, this is not the only inconvenience hampering Iran’s World Cup preparations.

Iran's football federation suspended relations with its Greek counterpart last month after a friendly match between the two was cancelled amid tensions between Greece and Turkey. A second warm-up against Kosovo was also cancelled.

Iran’s first match is on Friday against Morocco.

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