August 3 – German sportswear company Adidas is cutting ties with the Iranian national team ahead of next year’s Asian Cup, following in the footsteps of rival Nike because of increasing geopolitical uncertainty in the region.
In a statement Adidas said it had “notified the Football federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran that we will not extend the existing commercial agreement beyond the agreed term.”
With impending US sanctions Adidas has clearly decided to make an exception from its motto “Impossible is Nothing.” In June Nike announced that “as a US company, we cannot provide shoes to players in the Iran national team at this time.”
During the World Cup in Russia, Adidas supplied the team with shirts while Nike pulled their sponsorship of individual players’ footwear. Adidas’ Iran shirts were not available for fans to buy, prompting various public campaigns from Iranians to get the manufacturer to make the kit available
In response to the latest move, state-run media in Iran said the country’s FA President Mehdi Taj accused Adidas of “disrespecting the Iranian people” and demanded a formal apology from the manufacturer.
Iran will now be forced to find replacement kit providers before the Asian Cup in the UAE, where they have been drawn alongside Iraq, Yemen and Vietnam. Iran, under Portuguese coach Carlos Quieroz, have become a force in Asian football and were the first AFC nation to qualify for Russia 2018. The team’s development has been hampered by the difficulty to secure international fixtures, and it now doesn’t have a kit.
But there is no doubting the country’s passion for the game which sees crowds of more than 100,000 (some reports of up to 120,000) pack the Azadi Stadium for national team games and the Tehran derby between Persepolis and Esteglhal.
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