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A diplomatic crisis postpones Al-Ittihad’s match in the AFC Champions League

A diplomatic crisis postpones Al-Ittihad’s match in the AFC Champions League

ReutersOctober 2, 2023, 2:49 p.mReading: 2 minutes.

Sepahan team enters the stadium to greet its fansReproduction/ESPN

leave the Union to AFC Champions League against SepahanThe Saudi team’s match against Iran was canceled today, Monday, after the Saudi team refused to leave the dressing room due to the placement of a statue of the assassinated Iranian general at the entrance to the stadium.

The match was postponed by officials at Isfahan’s Naqsh-e Jahan Stadium, where around 60,000 fans had turned out to watch Sepahan take on Al-Ittihad’s first team, which would have included former football stars. Premier League N’Golo Kante that it Fabinho.

The Asian Football Confederation said the match was “cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.”

“The AFC reiterates its commitment to ensuring the safety of players, referees, spectators and all parties concerned,” the AFC said in a statement. “This matter will now be referred to the relevant committees.”

Qassem Soleimani, a senior general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed near Baghdad airport in a US drone strike in January 2020, and is considered a martyr by the country’s ruling regime.

Pictures of the stadium posted on social media showed that a bust of Soleimani was placed at the entrance to the stadium and will be in view of the players when they exit the tunnel.

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have long been tense, and this year’s AFC Champions League is the first since 2016 in which clubs from both countries are allowed to play each other home and away.

Previously, matches between clubs from the two countries were held on neutral grounds due to security concerns.

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Cristiano Ronaldo traveled with the team Victory To Tehran two weeks ago to confront Persepolis at Azadi Stadium, although the match was played in an empty stadium due to a spectator match ban imposed by the AFC on the Iranian club due to crowd behaviour.