Nike said in a statement: “The sanctions mean that, as a U.S. company, we cannot provide shoes to players in the Iran national team at this time.”
The sanctions mean that the US Treasury can come down hard on any company or person who violates them, with penalties of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison. No wonder Nike didn’t want to take their chances.
But this didn’t stop the Iran lobby from calling foul and raging against this perceived injustice.
Trita Parsi, current head of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said: “I haven’t gotten clarity on what legal basis [Nike] is using to say this. They should reference what part of the sanctions they are talking about since technically they’re not selling anything.”
While Jamal Abdi, the incoming head of the NIAC, said in a press release: “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 US 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 than when that team is unjustly targeted and insulted.”
These comments show just how far the Iran Lobby has fallen since Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal. Once they enjoyed fawning media coverage, now they are begging for shoes.
Of course, if the NIAC want to talk about punishing innocent Iranian athletes and sports fans, then we should definitely mention some of those that the Regime apologists have forgotten about.
Female sports fans
Iranian women have been banned from attending and watching sporting events, including soccer, swimming, and wrestling, since the Regime stole power in 1979. Some women have been forced to disguise themselves as men to gain entry and support their team, a practice that often leads to jail time if they are discovered.
There are strict rules for Iranian women competing in Iran or abroad, which control what sports they can take part in and what they can wear whilst competing. For example the must wear the hijab and a man must not come into contact with them.
The Iranian Olympic Committee states: “Severe punishment will be meted out to those who do not follow Islamic rules during sporting competitions.”
Female athletes at the Olympics are banned from taking part in events where a male referee could come into contact with them, meaning that only six women have represented Iran in the 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics combined.
While teenage chess grandmaster champion Dorsa Derakhshani was forced off the Iranian team for refusing to wear a hijab and now plays for the US.
It’s strange that the NIAC never mentions these cases, unless you recognise them as a mouthpiece for the Regime.
Of course, this whole debacle was never really about shoes. It’s about the sanctions, which are set to be much tougher than those which originally drove Iran to the nuclear negotiations table. If Nike will back away, what does this mean for the heavy industries (i.e. electronics, steel, petroleum) that Iran’s economy and military depend on?
Michael Tomlinson wrote on Iran Lobby: “The worry for Parsi and Abdi is that if other companies, including those in Asia and Europe, take these sanctions by the Drumpf administration more seriously, the Iranian regime could soon find its faltering economy knocked flat on its back which would pose significant threats to the rule of the mullahs in light of widening protests by ordinary working-class Iranians over the terrible economic conditions they are now facing.”
The best course of action for the US is imposing new sanctions against the Regime and support the Iranian people in their calls for regime change. One way to do this would be to send a delegation to the Free Iran gathering in Paris on June 30, where Bolton and Rudy Guliani have spoken before.