In a last minute move that threatens to severely handicap the Iranian team at the 2018 World Cup, Nike has announced that they are taking away their shoes, saying no Iranian players can be allowed to wear the shoes of a US company because of sanctions.
Iran’s coach is protesting the move to FIFA, noting that players have been practicing with the Nike shoes and will now have to get used to an entirely different type at the last minute. It is unclear where Iran will get these last minute shoes from.
Adidas is a possible replacement, however. The German company is already providing Iran’s team jerseys for the event, and despite US warnings, recent EU law has shielded EU companies from the US sanctions on Iran.
Ironically, Iran’s team includes Swedish-born Saman Ghoddos, who has an individual contract with Nike. The Ostersunds FK star may find himself forbidden from using the shoes he’s explicitly contracted to wear by the company that pays him to wear them, because of his Iranian ethnicity.
Despite Nike trying to present this as a continuation of US policy, Iran’s team was wearing Nike shoes in 2014, despite the exact same sanctions all being in place then. That Nike didn’t bother to cancel it until the last minute, literally days before Iran’s first game, only adds to the sense this was a move made out of spite at the behest of US officials. Iran opens up their World Cup play on Friday morning against Morocco in St. Petersburg.