Shrinking Socks Irk Iranian Soccer Players

Members of Iran's World Cup team complain that they have been supplied with faulty equipment.

Elad Benari ,

Iranian soccer players
Iranian soccer players

Shrinking socks, boots that are too small and not enough equipment have irked the members of Iran's World Cup team, AFP reported on Tuesday.

The team’s coach and players hit out at the country's football federation and kit sponsor for providing them with the less than adequate clothing and equipment.

The row has worsened tensions between coach Carlos Queiroz and the federation over chaotic preparations for the finals, which start June 12 in Brazil.

The Portuguese coach went to a training camp in Africa last month with only 12 players.

Now, with the countdown ticking away to Iran's first Group F game against Nigeria, Queiroz criticized the German makers of the Iran team strip Uhlsport, reported AFP.

"Before crucial games against Qatar and South Korea, which were played in extreme conditions of humidity, the equipment delivered was not proper," he told reporters as his team headed to a new World Cup training camp in Austria.

"This could have put Iran out of the World Cup," he said of the two qualifying games.

Queiroz went on to lambast the federation for failing to provide proper boots or enough clothing.

"If you give shoes sized 34 to somebody that wears size 44 he cannot walk five meters," he charged, only partly joking about the predicament his players find themselves in.

Iran, playing in the World Cup finals for the fourth time, faces a tough first round group against Argentina, Africa Cup of Nations champions Nigeria and debutants Bosnia.

"If you have one tracksuit per player morning and afternoon it cannot be good," added Queiroz.

Several players joined Queiroz in grumbling about the kit, said AFP.

"They give us large size socks and after two days and being washed they shrink to a small size," striker Karim Ansarifard was quoted as having said at the press event.

Mohammad Reza Khalatbari, whose former club Sepahan used Uhlsport equipment of the "best quality", hinted he believes the Iranian side was being given inferior supplies.

"The gear that we have now, we really don't know what it is," said the striker.

"We are really tired of talking about this. I don't understand why everyone is defending it. When there is something wrong, we should admit that there is a problem,” he added.

Iran’s Sports Minister, Mahmoud Goudarzi, downplayed the Iranian team's equipment problems but Queiroz fired back, saying that “the minister is not well-informed.”

Iran Football Federation president, Ali Kafashian, also defended the quality of the team kit.

"We expect the coach not to air dirty laundry in public," he said, describing the row as a distraction that would not help the team.

The distributor of the team kit, Dubai-based Romario Sports, did not comment when contacted by AFP. The company's representative in Iran, Mahmoud Piri, denied there was anything wrong with the shirts.

"This is clearly not true," he said. "An internationally recognized company would not question its own credibility -- ahead of the World Cup -- by producing poor quality gear.”

Something else that might irk Iran is the fact that this year’s World Cup will be guarded by the Haifa-based Elbit Systems, which was awarded a contracted by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) to supply its Hermes 900 Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), a highly advanced drone.

The drone carries a new and advanced intelligence gathering system, and will be used in security and safety missions throughout the games.

After the 2010 World Cup, then Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki claimed that the United States, Britain and France lost in the World Cup because they backed United Nations Security Council sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

"In this World Cup you see a meaningful correlation between politics and diplomacy and football," Mottaki said at the time.

"Those who played a key role in new sanctions against Iran such as America, England and France were eliminated in the early stages and some countries that were involved in sanctions in any way did not get into higher rounds," he claimed.