Nike Refuses To Provide Iran’s National Soccer Team With Sneakers For The World Cup

Amin M. JamaliGetty Images

The sanctions Iran currently faces from the international community in most capacities, including both governments and corporations, make a lot of things that are taken for granted in places like the United States nearly impossible for residents of the middle eastern nation, which now, is apparently an issue extending even to footwear.

As reported by The Washington Post, Iran’s team, known as “Team Melli” to residents and fans, are already facing extra problems from an American corporate giant that may very well inhibit their contribution in the World Cup.

Last week, American shoe corporation Nike issued a statement explaining that it would not be issuing any Iranian players equipment made by the brand.

“U.S. sanctions mean that, as a U.S. company, Nike cannot supply shoes to players in the Iranian national team at this time. Sanctions applicable to Nike have been in place for many years and are enforceable by law.”

The second part of the statement is what the team and its associates are drawing issue with, in particular, with the timing of the decision, since Nike had been supplying the team previously, including at the 2014 World Cup when similar sanctions were in place.

Nike’s decision is, of course, going to affect the athletic team’s ability to compete, with their first game only a few days away and the team frantically scrambling to ascertain some type of new agreement for footwear.

Iranian players have taken measures to ensure they will have the means to play with the narrow time frame they are afforded. Apparently, World Cup team members have asked players that are not from Iran on their personal club teams to lend them cleats, according to one team official. Other players, however, are simply going out and acquiring their own pairs at footwear stores so that they can compete.

Iranian team celebrate during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier match between South Korea and Iran at Munsu Cup Stadium on June 18, 2013 in Ulsan, South Korea.
Featured image credit: Amin M. JamaliGetty Images

This entire ordeal contributes to blatant ostracization of the Iranian athletes at an event where they should have the exact same resources as all competitors from other countries.

Coach Carlos Queiroz of the Iranian team has openly criticized Nike’s ruling, even asking for an apology to his team.

The Portuguese coach said recently in an interview for British GQ that “My duty is to create happiness, fun and entertainment for the people. Iran is a country rich in tradition and thousands of years of history. It’s just a pity that the perception of Iran around the world is not the right or real one, nor the one the Iranian people deserve.”