Just over a week before Iran plays their first World Cup match against Morocco, Nike has announced that they will no longer provide the Iranian national team’s cleats because of recently reimposed economic sanctions against the country. Nike has provided cleats for several Iranian players for years, including at the 2014 World Cup, and while players will be free to buy their own Nikes going forward, the company will no longer provide them.
Shoe brands regard the World Cup as an important chance to showcase their goods, and while there’s typically fierce competition to outfit as many players as possible, the Trump administration’s forthcoming sanctions were enough to scare Nike off. “U.S. sanctions mean that, as a U.S. company, Nike cannot supply shoes to players in the Iranian National team at this time,” a statement from Nike said. “Sanctions applicable to Nike have been in place for many years and are enforceable by law.”
This could make it harder for Iran to advance out of their group or spring an upset against Portugal or Spain, since players won’t be quite as comfortable if they have to switch gear. As coach Carlos Quieroz said, “Players get used to their sports equipment, and it’s not right to change them a week before such important matches.” Per ESPN, affected players are taking various steps to get ready:
With little time to react, Iran’s players have taken varying steps to make sure they will be equipped to play: Some have asked non-Iranian players on their club teams to loan them boots, according to one team official, while others have had friends acquire them or have simply gone out and bought their own footwear at stores.
Correction: The original version of this post featured a photo of an Iraqi national player.