United States-based sport and clothing company Nike announced it will not provide cleats to Iran's national team ahead of the 2018 World Cup, scheduled to begin on June 14, citing US sanctions.
ESPN reported Monday that the decision follows the USA withdrawing last month from the Iran nuclear deal.
The Nike moves comes at a time of tense relations between Washington and Tehran, with President Donald Trump last month pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and re-imposing sanctions it had previously waived.
"U.S. sanctions mean that, as a US company, Nike can not supply shoes to players in the Iranian national team at this time", the company said in a statement obtained by the news outlet.
Trump followed through in May on months of threats to pull the USA out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Nike's use of the sanctions to justify its decision has raised concerns because in 2014, when economic sanctions were in place against Iran, the national team wore Nike cleats during the World Cup games. It is unclear why Nike is now opting not to supply the footwear.
Nike added that sanctions applicable to its business "have been in place for many years and are enforceable by law". Nike and tech giant Samsung decided not to supply certain goods to North Korean athletes due to United Nations sanctions against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime.
With little time to react, Iran's players have taken varying steps to make sure they will be equipped to play: some have asked non-Iranian players on their club teams to loan them boots, according to one team official, while others have had friends acquire them or simply gone out and bought their own footwear at stores. Iran will play its first match on Friday against Portugal.