Iran Banned From Hosting International Soccer Matches

Ross Houston
January 21, 2020

A statement posted on the Iranian Federation website on Saturday said that "Al-Ittihad received a letter from the AFC announcing the holding of the AFC Champions League matches, which are to be hosted by Iranian clubs, in neutral countries".

However, Iranian soccer federation has not specified why it was handed down the ban from the AFC, or whether the decision was linked to the recent downing of a Ukraine Airlines passenger plane that killed all 176 onboard over the capital city, Tehran.

"The Islamic Republic Football Federation (IFF) has received an official letter from the AFC that said it had made a decision to hold the future Asian Soccer League Championship hosted by Iran in "neutral" countries", the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)-run Tasnim news agency reported on Friday, January 17.

"The Iranian Football Federation, clubs and officials unanimously oppose it and will definitely stand up to this decision", added Federation chief Heidar Bahrvand.

Meanwhile, the four Iranian participating teams in the 2020 ACL sent a letter to Asia's governing football body announcing that they will host their rivals only in Iran not anywhere else.

Iran staggers under a United States maximum pressure campaign UU. after the president Donald Trump pulled his country from a milestone nuclear agreement in 2018 and again imposed sanctions on Tehran. AFC's Executive Committee has not issued the final ruling on the case yet but the initial decision has sparked harsh criticism towards AFC for mingling politics into sports.

"We must organize parties, because this is the right of our people. This is our absolute right and we insist on it", Bahrvand said.

As if Iran's already near total isolation from the so-called worldwide community amid crippling USA sanctions wasn't enough, the country has now been banned from hosting foreign teams for soccer matches on its soil. Social media posts with the hashtag #ACLneedIranFans were trending on Twitter.

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