April 4 – Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have been chosen as the neutral venues for upcoming fixtures between clubs from Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Despite warning it may withdraw its teams, Iran has conceded to an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) mandate to play its home regional Champions League matches against Saudi opposition on neutral territory because of a breakdown in political relations between the rivals.
Both nations were given until March 25 to come up with suggestions for venues even though Iran cried foul and accused the AFC of unfairly favouring the Saudis and of allowing politics to intervene “which is against AFC and (world governing body) FIFA’s statutes…”
However, it the Saudis’ own home games have also been switched.
In a statement, the AFC, which set a mid-March deadline for relations to improve, said that “with no significant developments in the relationship between the two countries by the deadline, both the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) and the IR Iran Football Federation (IRIFF) were required to propose neutral venues for their clubs’ remaining fixtures.”
“After assessing the proposals submitted by both Member Associations, the AFC approved the IRIFF’s proposal to play their home matches in Oman and the SAFF’s proposal to move their matches to Qatar and the UAE.”
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