It's not merely that the Iranian national team for the 2018 World Cup will no longer have access to Nike shoes or equipment, it's that their current shoes are actually being taken away from them.
The announcement set Iranian social media ablaze with anger over the weekend, with many Iranians declaring they would never again buy Nike products: “The sanctions mean that, as a U.S. company, we cannot provide shoes to players in the Iran national team at this time,” Nike told NBC News in a statement.Members of the Iranian national soccer team arrive at Moscow's Vnukovo airport on June 5. Image source: TASS
Soon after initial breaking reports of the decision last week, Iranian-American Middle East analyst Holly Dagres noted, "In the wake of Nike's decision to not provide cleats to Iran's national football team, Iranians are pushing a boycott of the US brand using #BoycottNike."
Nike will provide 60% of World Cup players with their shoes as official sponsors when they take the field on June 14 in St. Petersburg, Russia, but says it will confirm to US law citing new U.S. Treasury-enforced sanctions on Iran, and impending White House plans for more. Violators can face punishment of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison, and American banks assisting in business transactions can also be "subject to civil penalties of up to the greater of $250,000 or twice the transaction value," according to the US Department of the Treasury Iran sanctions page.
Now, no Iranian players are allowed to wear Nike shoes or gear after the last minute decision — items which the company had previously provided; however, less than a week away from Iran's first game with Morocco on Friday players are being forced to switch.
Weekend reports indicated the German company Adidas may provide shoes for players forced to switch last minute as recent EU law has sought to shield EU companies from American sanctions on Iran. This includes Swedish-born Saman Ghoddos, who as a star for Sweden's professional Ostersunds FK has long had an individual contract with Nike, but will now be forbidden from wearing them while playing for Iran.
Iranian national team supporters declared they are boycotting Nike:
In the wake of @Nike's decision to not provide cleats to Iran's national football team, Iranians are pushing a boycott of the US brand using #BoycottNike. Someone even started a Facebook page: https://t.co/qDNuLQDMtF...