Iran footballers who usually wear Nike boots now have to buy their own pairs or borrow from colleagues at the Russia World Cup, following a political fallout which has seen new US sanctions imposed upon the country.
Sportswear giants Nike have pulled their supply of boots for the team because of the fresh sanctions imposed by America after pulling out of the nuclear agreement, leaving those Iran players accustomed to their model of footwear with a dilemma.
In May, President Donald Trump announced the US would withdraw from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and vowed to reimpose economic sanctions which were waived back in 2015, when the deal was signed.
The Iran national team will be unable to wear Nike boots at the World Cup due to US sanctions Of the Iran first team, Ramin Rezaeian, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Mohammad Ansari Saeid Ezatolahi, Vahid Amiri, Milad Mohammadi and Ashkan Dejagah are all wearers of Nike.
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WHAT IS THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL?
In 2015, Iran agreed a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with the P5+1 group of world powers – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.
It came after years of tension over Iran’s alleged efforts to develop a nuclear weapon.
As part of the deal, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
Limits on uranium and plutonium were made, along with the adhering to checks. Sanctions were lifted, which had cost the country more than $160bn (£118bn) in oil revenue from 2012 to 2016 alone.
On May 8 president Trump announced the US would be pulling out of the deal due to the country’s continuation of nuclear activity and alleged support of terrorism.
‘Since the agreement Iran’s bloody ambitions have grown only more brazen,’ said Trump.
As a result, many companies have decided to suspend their dealings with the MIddle Eastern country, with Nike among the biggest to do so.
The developments left Iran national manager Carlos Queiroz fuming on the eve of their first fixture of the tournament.
Several first-team players were wearing the brand’s boots during a training session in Saint Petersburg on Thursday, but had to buy them beforehand from Russian sports shops.
‘US sanctions mean that, as a US company, Nike cannot supply shoes to players in the Iranian national team at this time,’ the national team put out in a statement, which was reported by ESPN.
‘Sanctions applicable to Nike have been in place for many years and are enforceable by law,’ the statement added.
Companies in violation of the law could face hefty fines in the US.
Speaking out on the situation, manager Queiroz insists it is unfair his players should have their preparations disrupted and be left without supplies they are familiar with on the eve of a huge tournament.
The national side have been training this week ahead of their opening tie with Morocco.
Players wore Nike boots to train on Thursday, but had to buy them from Russian sports shops
Some stars have refused to switch boots as they are used to the fit of Nike supplied boots.
Iran midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi is a frequent wearer of Nike branded football boots.
‘Players get used to their sports equipment, and it’s not right to change them a week before such important matches,’ said Queiroz.
‘They [Nike] should come out and apologise because this arrogant conduct against 23 boys is absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary.
‘We are only managers and footballers, and should not get involved in such matters.’
The former Manchester United No 2 added: ‘We are asking FIFA to help us with this,’ though it remains unlikely a solution with Nike could be found.
The Iranian national team kit is produced by arch rival of the company Adidas, though the German giants do not officially sponsor the team.
The kit was sold to the Iranian federation, and is not a contracted agreement.
Manager Carlos Queiroz hit out at
Nike’s actions, in accordance with the US sanctions, have been greeted with anger by many Iranians. An online campaign has since emerged, with Iranians attempting a boycott of Nike products with the use of a hashtag #NotoNike.
Of the Iran first team, Ramin Rezaeian, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Mohammad Ansari Saeid Ezatolahi, Vahid Amiri, Milad Mohammadi and Ashkan Dejagah are all wearers of Nike branded football boots.
Iran kick begin their World Cup campaign against Morocco on Friday, with kick off at 4pm BST.