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Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad specify reason for cancelling football match in Iran

October 3, 2023 at 2:14 pm

A bust of slain Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) commander Qasem Soleimani is displayed before the pitch at the Naghsh-e-Jahan Stadium in Isfahan during the AFC Champions League Group C football match between Iran’s Sepahan and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ittihad on October 2, 2023 [MORTEZA SALEHI/TASNIM NEWS/AFP via Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia’s football club, Al-Ittihad, issued a statement on Tuesday specifying the reason for cancelling its Asian Champion League (AFC) match with Iran’s Sepahan Club, Anadolu Agency reports.

The match was scheduled to take place on Monday at the Naqsh-e-Jahan Stadium in central Iran’s Isfahan city.

Unconfirmed reports said that the football match was cancelled due to the presence of a statue of former Iranian General, Qassem Soleimani, inside the stadium.

In a statement, Al-Ittihad said the Saudi team officials were notified by the match observer that the match would not be played as scheduled and allowed the team to leave the stadium.

It called on the AFC “to protect the club’s rights as guaranteed by the rules and regulations”.

On Monday, the AFC said the match was cancelled due to “unanticipated” and “unforeseen circumstances”.

It said the issue will be referred to the relevant committees, and reiterated its commitment towards ensuring the safety and security of the players, match officials, spectators and all stakeholders involved.

Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone strike in Baghdad, Iraq, in January 2020.

Pertinently, Iran and Saudi Arabia, in March, decided to restore their diplomatic ties after seven years and following two years of negotiations.

Last month, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr football club played against Iran’s Persepolis at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, which the Saudi team won 2-0.

READ: Asian Champions League clash called off after Saudis refuse to take to pitch