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Nike Boycotts Iran's World Cup Players, Citing US Sanctions

By Michael Lipin, VOA

The world's largest footwear maker, U.S. apparel company Nike, says it will not provide shoes to players of Iran's national football team for the World Cup because of U.S. sanctions.

In a statement emailed to VOA Persian on Monday, Nike said it based its decision on the Trump administration's plan to re-impose U.S. sanctions on Iran in the coming months. President Donald Trump announced the re-imposition of sanctions last month when he withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

"The sanctions mean that, as a U.S. company, we cannot provide shoes to players in the Iran national team at this time," the Nike statement said.

A Reuters report published May 30 quoted a Nike spokesman as saying none of the Iranian players at the World Cup, which begins next week, will be wearing its shoes. The report also quoted the spokesman as saying: "This has no relation to any political situation."

Nike's main rival, Germany-based Adidas, is providing the jerseys of the Iranian team, also known as Team Melli.

Football's world governing body FIFA does not regulate the shoe brand choices of players at the World Cup. A competing team can feature players wearing football shoes, or cleats, made by different brands, but all of that team's players must wear the same brand of jersey under FIFA rules.

It is not clear if Iranian players at the World Cup will wear Nike shoes obtained by means other than direct sponsorship of the company. There has been no mention of Nike's corporate boycott of Iranian football players on Team Melli's official website or its Twitter account.

This report was produced in collaboration with 
VOA's Persian Service.

About the author: Michael Lipin covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

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