Today, Thursday, the Asian Football Confederation considered the Iranian Sepahan team a loser in its match against its guest, Al-Ittihad, Saudi Arabia, 0-3, in the AFC Champions League, which was scheduled for last October 3, and was canceled due to the federation’s objection to placing a statue of the Iranian general. Qasem Soleimani -Who was assassinated in Iraq- on the outskirts of the stadium.
The Continental Federation also warned Sepahan that “the relevant statue and banners must be removed from Nefesh Jahan Stadium in Isfahan in all future matches within the continental championships,” hinting at harsher penalties in the event of a repeat of the violation.
Reports stated that the Saudi team players refused to leave the changing room because of the placement of a statue of Soleimani at the entrance to the stadium.
Pictures from the stadium published on social media showed a bust of Soleimani placed at the entrance to the stadium, and it was in full view of the players the moment they left the tunnel.
#urgent | Players #the Union They refuse to go onto the field in protest against the Iranian club’s practices of placing pictures and statues far from the field of sports #Al-Ittihad_Spahan #News_Sports https://t.co/KdRiOrJsSp
– News – Sports (@sport_ekh) October 2, 2023
The Saudi champion’s tally rose to 9 points, topping the third group and 5 points ahead of the Iraqi Air Force Club and Sepahan, while AGMK from Uzbekistan is at the bottom of the group without any point.
The AFC said in a statement immediately after the match was cancelled, “The third group match in the AFC Champions League between Sepahan and Al-Ittihad in Isfahan was canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.”
He added, “The AFC renews its commitment to ensuring the safety and security of players, match referees, fans and all relevant stakeholders.”
Qassem Soleimani, a prominent general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, was killed near Baghdad airport in a US drone strike in January 2020.