We are all proud of how Team Melli played in the World Cup, but we are also so proud of how this community was able to come together to support the Iranian national soccer team. With every new petition signature, we show Nike that Iranian-Americans are willing to unite in the face of discrimination against our people and community.
Though our petition has not received a response yet, we wanted to let you know that we are putting additional pressure on Nike. We have sent their CEO, Mark Parker, a letter detailing our concerns and asking for answers. You can find an excerpt of the letter below.
Over the past eighteen months, our community has been living under a Muslim Travel Ban that prevents our families from visiting us in the United States. With the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, we collectively worry about the prospect of a war with Iran. The World Cup is a rare chance to put aside the many political challenges of the moment and to celebrate what unites us – sport. This is a principle that so many of us have viewed as a core element of Nike’s brand and mission. I hope you understand how disappointing your decision is for our community, but, in the spirit of transcending what divides us and instead celebrating what unites us, we would like to request a meeting to discuss this issue further and help broker a resolution or understanding.
Nike’s statement to the press explained that “sanctions mean that, as a U.S. company, we cannot provide shoes to players in the Iran national team at this time.” However, many in the Iranian-American community believe that Nike made a political decision rather than one rooted simply in legal obligation. We fully understand that corporations are placed in the tenuous position of navigating a labyrinth of U.S. sanctions laws. However, like most of the Iranian-American community, we too do not understand Nike’s legal rationale in this particular situation.
We would be interested to learn in more detail why Nike made this decision so that we can communicate it to our community and, as appropriate, conduct our own outreach with U.S. government agencies to address this challenge and prevent similar issues from arising in the future.
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