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Iran: Iranian-Saudi football match will be rescheduled

October 4, 2023 at 1:57 pm

Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on April 27, 2023 [Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency]

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said today that he is in “direct contact” with his Saudi counterpart in an effort to reschedule the football match between Iran’s Sepahan club and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ittihad which was due to be held on Monday.

The Asian Champions League (AFC) match was due to be held at the Naqsh e Jahan stadium in central Iran’s Isfahan city, but the Saudi team refused to leave the dressing room after they discovered that a bust of former Iranian general Qasem Soleimani had been erected inside the stadium.

Speaking to reporters in Tehran, Amir-Abdollahian said he was in “direct contact” with his Saudi Arabian counterpart Prince Faisal Bin Farhan during the AFC match, adding that the game must not become a “political lever.”

Amir-Abdollahian said relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, who restored their diplomatic ties in March after a hiatus of seven years, are “on the right path”.

Iran’s Sepahan football club said the match was called off by the referee, saying they would lodge a complaint with the AFC. Al-Ittihad club, meanwhile, said the AFC observer decided to cancel the game.

The AFC said the match was cancelled due to “unanticipated” and “unforeseen circumstances,” adding that the issue would be referred to the relevant committees.

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