Only a week out from the beginning of the World Cup, sportswear giant Nike announced that it would not supply the Iranian team with cleats due to the U.S. government’s announcement of new sanctions on the terror-exporting nation.
The sportswear company’s decision met with scorn from the National Iranian Council, an non-profit advocacy group based in Washington DC, CNBC reported.
“For many Iranian Americans, the World Cup is a rare chance to put aside the politics that complicate our relationship with our ancestral homeland and just enjoy rooting for Team Melli,” the group said in a statement. “Nike is dragging politics back into the picture and souring what should be a global celebration. Nike was an outspoken opponent of Trump’s Muslim ban that targets Iranians, yet now here they are helping enforce this new shameful policy against Iranians. We hope they will join us in pressing for the Trump administration to reverse course and ensure sports aren’t turned into a political tool.”
Iran’s team manager, Carlos Queiroz, called for FIFA, soccer’s governing body, to step in. “Players get used to their sports equipment and it’s not right to change them a week before such important matches,” Queiroz said.
FIFA, has not yet responded to the situation.
If Nike sticks with its decision, it would not be the first sportswear company to refuse to supply Iranian soccer teams with gear. Last year Adidas refused the Iranian team due to economic sanctions, as well.
Iran is facing similar situations in other venues. This month aircraft maker Boeing announced that it would cancel sales to Iran following the renewal of U.S. sanctions.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.