Head coach of the Iran men's national football team Carlos Queiroz has demanded a formal apology from American sportswear manufacturer Nike over its decision to withdraw supply of boots to Iranian footballers ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The 65-year-old Portuguese described Nike’s statement not to provide the Iranian side, nicknamed Team Melli, with the footwear as unnecessary, and asked the world’s soccer governing body to intervene and help.
“It has been a source of inspiration for us. This last comment of Nike was, in my personal view, an unnecessary statement. Everybody is aware about the sanctions” Queiroz told Sky Sports television network.
He added, “They should come out and apologize because this arrogant conduct against 23 boys is absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary.”
“US sanctions mean that, as a US company, Nike cannot supply shoes to players in the Iranian national team at this time. Sanctions applicable to Nike have been in place for many years and are enforceable by law,” Nike had said in a statement published by ESPN sports television network.
Nike’s decision comes despite the fact that it had been supplying Team Melli previously, including at the 2014 FIFA World Cup when similar sanctions were in place.
During the official 2018 FIFA World Cup draw ceremony at Kremlin State Palace in the Russian capital city of Moscow on December 1 last year, Team Melli joined the Portugal national football team, nicknamed A Selecção, Spain’s La Furia Roja and Atlas Lions of Morocco in the preliminary round of the tournament.
The host nation, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay form Group A in the upcoming quadrennial international sports event.
France is drawn in Group C, and is pitted against Australia, Peru and Denmark.
Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria are drawn in Group D.
Group E consists of Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
While the 2014 FIFA World Cup champion Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea shape Group F, Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England are in Group G.
Group H has Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place from June 14 to July 15. Russia will open the event against Saudi Arabia in a Group A fixture at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.
A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities.
Iran will start its World Cup campaign against Morocco at Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on June 15.