“The sanctions mean that, as a U.S. company, we cannot provide shoes to players in the Iran National team at this time,” Nike said.
President Donald Trump’s recent decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and restore heavy economic sanctions on the country is having an effect on an arena beyond politics: the 2018 World Cup.
Nike will be providing the shoes for 60 percent of the World Cup players when they take the field on June 14 in St. Petersburg, Russia, and had offered the shoes to Iran’s national team in the past, as well. This year will now be an exception.
“The sanctions mean that, as a U.S. company, we cannot provide shoes to players in the Iran national team at this time,” Nike said in a statement on Friday to NBC News.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury, which is responsible for enforcing financial sanctions on Iran, can charge a person who willfully violates the sanctions with criminal penalties of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison, according to the Department’s website.
American financial institutions can also be “subject to civil penalties of up to the greater of $250,000 or twice the transaction value,” the site says.
This decision by NIke has been met with outrage by the head coach for Iran’s national team, Carlos Queiroz.
“Players get used to their sports equipment, and it’s not right to change them a week before such important matches,” Queiroz told reporters outside the team’s training session in Moscow on Wednesday. The players usually practice with the same shoes they will use in the official games.
Queiroz also called on FIFA, the international association in charge of the games, to address the matter.
The reason Nike won’t be providing the shoes is that there is “no general license permitting the transfer of U.S.-origin / owned clothing to Iran,” Richard Nephew, a former director for Iran at the National Security Council and a sanctions expert, told NBC News via email.
However, the Iranian team wore the brand’s shoes during the 2014 World Cup. At that time, Iran was under heavy sanctions imposed by the Obama administration before the nuclear deal was signed in 2015.
Since the 1994 World Cup, Nike has also been representing specific players and providing the official game shoes for more than half of the players in the World Cup.
Adidas, a German brand, has had a partnership with FIFA since 1970, and is contracted to sponsor the World Cup until 2030, according to Reuters. It will be providing the jerseys for the Iranian team. The Trump administration has warned Germany and German businesses not to do business with Iran.
Source » nbcnews