Socceroos' starlet Daniel Arzani will continue to honour his contract with Nike despite the sports manufacturer refusing to supply Iranian players with football boots for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The American company withdrew its supply of football gear to the Iranian players and the Iran national team, adhering to president Donald Trump's trade embargo against Iran that was reimposed last month.
The announcement on the eve of the 2018 World Cup caused fury for the Iran players and was met with widespread criticism, denying Team Melli's athletes of wearing boots and equipment they had become accustomed. If Nike defied the embargo and supplied Iranian players with boots, they would have been subjected to fines in America.
"US sanctions mean that, as a US company, Nike cannot supply shoes to players in the Iranian national team at this time,” a Nike statement read. “Sanctions applicable to Nike have been in place for many years and are enforceable by law.”
However, the company's decision will not impact their sponsorship of the 19-year-old Socceroo who was born in Iran and moved to Australia at the age of six. It's understood Arzani will not boycott the company over its decision to follow president Trump's trade embargo of Iran and remains committed to wearing Nike products in Russia.
"He will wear Nike at the tournament," a Football Federation Australia spokesman said.
Sources suggest the decision to stop supplying Iranian players with boots was made by Nike's headquarters in USA, rather than the company's Australian branch which is responsible for providing equipment to the overwhelming majority of the Socceroos' squad.
Arzani opted to play for Australia rather than his country of birth despite Iran coach Carlos Quieroz declaring his admiration for the youngster and his willingness to select him. That decision to play for the Socceroos is one of the main circumstances that keeps his sponsorship with Nike in tact in light of the US-imposed trade embargo.
The timing of Nike's withdrawal from its agreement with Iran's players was slammed by Quieroz who demanded an apology for the company having left players without equipment during their preparation for the World Cup.
“They should come out and apologise because this arrogant conduct against 23 boys is absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary," Quieroz told Sky Sports. “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."
Fairfax Media sought comment from FIFA over Nike's decision to not supply equipment to players at the World Cup. The company is not a sponsor of world football's governing body whose apparel and sports manufacturer partner is Adidas.
Dominic Bossi is a football reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.
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