American sportswear brand Nike said they would not provide cleats to the Iranian National team this year. The decision followed the Trump administration’s plan to reimpose sanctions on the Middle Eastern nation, the company said.
President Donald Trump announced a new set of sanctions last month after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal.
Sportswear companies like Adidas, Nike and Puma vie for sponsorship deals with some of the world’s best soccer teams ahead of the World Cup, one the most highly watched sporting events around the globe.
Nike said this year about 60 percent of the players at the World Cup would be wearing the company’s cleats, while competitor Adidas will be outfitting 12 of 32 teams in this year’s games.
Despite Iran being ranked the top team in the Asian Football Confederation, the team has struggled through the years in gaining sponsorships as a result of international sanctions. Nike does sponsor individual Iranian players who compete in soccer clubs outside of their home nations like Swedish-born Iranian player Saman Ghoddos. It is unclear if he will also be effected by Nike’s decision.
This move comes right before Iran’s first game against Morocco and is being condemned by Iranian interest groups and Iranians.
Along with NIAC, Iran’s team manager Carlos Queiroz has called on FIFA, the sport’s governing body, to step in.