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Why the football match in Iran was canceled

4 October 2023: Saudi Arabia’s football club Al-Ittihad issued a statement on Tuesday specifying the reason for canceling its Asian Champion League (AFC) match with Iran’s Sepahan club, reports Anadolu Agency.

Scheduled to take place on Monday at the Naqsh e Jahan stadium in central Iran’s Isfahan city, the football match was canceled due to the presence of a statue of former Iranian general Qassem Soleimani inside the stadium, said unconfirmed reports.

In a statement, Al-Ittihad said the Saudi team officials were notified by the match observer that the match would not be played as scheduled and allowed the team to leave the stadium. It called on the AFC “to protect the club’s rights as guaranteed by the rules and regulations.”

On Monday, the AFC said the match was canceled due to “unanticipated” and “unforeseen circumstances.”

It said the issue will be referred to the relevant committees, and reiterated its commitment towards ensuring the safety and security of the players, match officials, spectators, and all stakeholders involved.

Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone strike in Baghdad, Iraq, in January 2020.

Pertinently, Iran and Saudi Arabia in March decided to restore their diplomatic ties after seven years and following two years of negotiations. Last month, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr football club played against Iran’s Persepolis at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, which the Saudi team won 2-0.

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