Nike Petition Update: Demanding Accountability from Nike

An update on our petition , “Tell Nike Not to Politicize the World Cup,” in regards to Nike’s refusal to provide cleats to the Iranian World Cup Team:

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.

Please continue sharing the petition with your family and friends.

If you’re interested in getting involved with any of the groups sponsoring this petition, please click the links below:

Aftab Committee
Iranian Alliances Across Borders
Iranian-American Bar Association
National Iranian American Council
United For Iran

Iran’s World Cup Team Should Be Treated Fairly

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: 202-386-6408
Email: jabdi@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C. – Jamal Abdi, the Vice President for Policy of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement after Nike announced its boycott of the Iranian World Cup Team:

“We are disappointed that Nike has boycotted Iran’s World Cup players by refusing to provide shoes to the Iranian national team. We call on the U.S. Government to take immediate steps to address this shameful situation and that Nike actively seek a resolution. FIFA should also take necessary steps to address this issue and ensure that none of the teams in the World Cup are subject to double standards.

“Governments that drag politics into international sporting events, including Iran itself when it boycotts matches with Israel, face well-deserved admonishment. This situation is unfortunately no different. Events like the World Cup and the Olympics are meant to rise above disputes between nations and serve as an example of what unites us.

“This flies in the face of any claims by the Trump Administration that it is targeting the Iranian government and not the Iranian people. We are well aware that the President’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, has openly called for the U.S. to take steps to target even sports exchanges with Iran and may relish this shameful situation. Nothing symbolizes the wishes and hopes of the Iranian people more than their national soccer team. And nothing unifies them more then when that team is unjustly targeted and insulted.

“The dignified response is for the Trump administration to immediately take steps to ensure that Iran’s national team is not barred from sponsorship in world sporting competitions and for Nike to exhibit good sportsmanship and treat all teams equally.”

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