Uhlsport hits back over shoddy Iran kit row
The German kit supplier to Iran's World Cup squad hit back Wednesday over allegations that it has provided shoddy gear, including shrinking socks and shirts, to the players.
Uhlsport, in a statement sent to AFP in Tehran, said it was "shocked and shaken" by claims that it supplied second-rate outfits to the Iranian side ahead of the tournament in Brazil.
"The claim that players have not received sufficient soccer jerseys for the tournament is wrong and absurd," the company said.
"We have used the same standards for Iran as we use for every other association or club that we work with."
Iran team coach Carlos Queiroz criticised Uhlsport on Sunday, saying the shirts his players used in qualifying games in Qatar and South Korea were "not proper" for humid conditions.
"This could have put Iran out of the World Cup," he said of the strips, before going on to lambast the Iran Football Federation for failing to provide proper boots or ensure enough clothing.
"If you have one tracksuit per player, morning and afternoon, it cannot be good," added Queiroz, former boss of Real Madrid and the Portuguese and South African national sides as well as a former assistant coach at Manchester United.
Several Iran players backed the manager's claims, telling reporters that their socks and shirts shrank when washed.
The furore comes less than a month before kick-off in Brazil, where Iran are drawn in Group F, along with Argentina, Bosnia Hercegovina and Nigeria.
On Monday, Mahmoud Piri, a representative for Dubai-based Romario Sports, which distributes the Uhlsport gear to Iran, denied there was a quality issue and alleged that a personal dispute with Queiroz over money was the source of the row.
The Iran boss denied the claim.
However, in what appeared to be a veiled reference, Uhlsport appeared to renew the financial allegations and said some players had "imprudently" allowed themselves to be "misused".
"Other forces hoped to gain direct personal advantages from our partnership with the federation," the company said.
The Iran squad is currently at a training camp in Austria but the row overshadowed their departure on Monday and the dispute has now reached the political arena.
Mohammad Nahavandian, President Hassan Rouhani's chief of staff, was quoted by ISNA news agency Wednesday as calling for unity and for differences to be settled.
"Everyone should support the national team and we should try to solve its problems as soon as possible," Nahavandian said, noting that the situation would be followed "diligently".
"Until the time that the team travels to Brazil, the officials at Youth and Sports Ministry and the football federation will brief the government in this regard on a weekly basis," he added.
Iran's opening game is against Nigeria on June 16.