Moscow, June 18: Iran forward Alireza Jahanbakhsh has criticized American sports apparel brand Nike which, ahead of the FIFA World Cup, refused to continue supply of boots to his team owing to US-led sanctions against the Asian country.
Two days before Iran’s opening match against Morocco on Friday, Nike put out a statement, saying its reason of withdrawl was based on US President Donald Trump’s call to withdraw from the joint agreement between Iran and the six world powers
Nike’s statement caused frustration in the Iranian Football Federation as the firm had previously supplied the Iranian team with boots despite the sanctions, like at the 2014 World Cup.
Iran won their opening match after Morocco’s Aziz Bouhaddouz scored an own goal shortly before the final whistle to give Carlos Queiroz’s team three points and top spot in Group B, after Portugal and Spain played out a 3-3 draw later on Friday, reported Xinhua news agency.
“To be honest, we didn’t care actually. What they have done is a little bit disrespectful,” Jahanbakhsh told Iranian media.
“In my opinion, and we spoke with the other players in the team as we had a meeting about this, politics has nothing to do with sport and with football, such a beautiful game. You don’t have to involve this kind of thing with this game,” he added.
“That is something that unfortunately this brand did and it’s their responsibility to do such a thing, but the image they have projected, at least for 80 million people in Iran, is not a really nice image.”