Iran threatens AFC Champions League boycott if clubs not allowed to play at home

January 20 – Iran is considering boycotting the Asian Champions League after the Asian Football Confederation apparently banned the country’s clubs from staging home games.

Iran’s FA said the AFC wanted fixtures involving Iranian teams to take place at neutral venues and that therefore its four teams – Persepolis, Esteghlal, Sepahan and Shahr Khodro – would pull out entirely.

The AFC move comes amid heightened tension in the region and the Iranian football federation said it would announce a “final position” in the “following days”.

Persepolis chief executive Mohammad Hassan Ansarifard told Iran’s Mehr news agency the club will “certainly not participate” in the new Champions League season “if they (the AFC) insist on their decision”.

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

The Iranians did not say what reason was given for the AFC move or whether it was related to the accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane last week.

Iran hosted the final of the 2018 edition at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium and Bahrvand said:  “We must host matches, because this is our people’s right. We should not deprive our spectators from hosting games. This is our absolute right and we insist on it.”

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