- The Iranian national team was dealt a severe blow just days before the World Cup, with Nike withdrawing its sponsorship of the team’s footwear.
- Nike’s decision comes in the wake of the United States’ move to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, setting economic sanctions on the country.
- Players on the Iranian team are reportedly reaching out to players on other teams or buying shoes on their own for the tournament to be ready for their first match on Friday.
Just days before their opening match in the 2018 World Cup, the Iranian national team was dealt a severe blow.
Nike, who was set to sponsor the team with cleats and footwear throughout the tournament, announced that it had withdrawn its support of the team for the World Cup because of global economic sanctions against the country.
In a statement, Nike said, “U.S. sanctions mean that, as a U.S. company, Nike cannot supply shoes to players in the Iranian national team at this time.”
The decision from Nike comes in the wake of the Trump administration’s move to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. While the sanctions are meant to put pressure on the country’s economic system, it appears the move has had the unexpected repercussion of leaving Iran’s players scrambling for shoes only days before they play the biggest games of their year.
Iran’s coach, Carlos Queiroz, expressed frustration with the move, noting how dramatically it could affect his team’s play through the tournament.
“Players get used to their sports equipment,” Queiroz said. “It’s not right to change them a week before such important matches.”
According to ESPN’s Sam Borden, players on the Iranian team have been left to find shoes by other means – reaching out to non-Iran players that play club ball to loan them a few pairs, or just buying their own. Still, the lack of a reliable supply of boots puts players in a tight spot, especially if weather or field conditions are less than ideal.
Iran will begin its World Cup run on Friday with a match against Morocco, followed by matches against Spain and Portugal to finish out the group stage of the tournament. While they already faced an uphill battle in advancing to the knockout round of the tournament, now they will have to pull off the miracle without the support of a shoe sponsor.
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