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Iranian teams will not give in to AFC’s ‘political’ decision

AFC Champions League

MNA – Four teams that represent Iran in this year’s AFC Champions League announced that they will participate in the event only if they can host their rivals in Iran.

According to informed sources, the four teams have signed and sent a letter to the AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa on recent developments regarding Iran’s capability to host rivals.

The letter notes that the Iranian teams will not give in to AFC’s political decision and will not host their rivals in any country other than Iran, said the source, adding that the stance is being taken to preserve Iran’s dignity, defend Iran’s security, and prevent interference of politics in sports.

The Iranian Football Federation confirmed on Friday that it has received a letter from the AFC which says Iranian teams should host their rivals in 2020 ACL in a neutral venue. The decision is not final yet as the AFC’s Executive Committee has not endorsed it.

President of Iran's National Olympic Committee Reza Salehi Amiri also reacted to the news surrounding the ban in a Saturday interview with a local radio station. “The AFC’s Executive Committee will hold a session on Sunday to announce its final decision,” he said, adding, “To preserve the validity of the establishment, we will not tolerate any humiliation and, as officially announced, we will not take part in the competitions if such a decision is made.”

“Those who make that decision will be accountable for its consequences,” he highlighted.

He went on to say that the ban is neither good for Iran nor for the AFC as it will prove that Sheikh Salman is following others’ orders.

He said that Iran is among the safest countries in the West Asian region, adding that the Ukrainian plane incident was ‘tragic’ but Iran accepted the responsibility for the mistake and any further pressure for the incident amounts to taking revenge on the Iranian nation.

Earlier, Al-Anba newspaper claimed that the matches between Esteghlal and Kuwait SC, which is due to be held on Jan. 21, has been postponed due to Kuwaiti officials' concerns over the security situation in Iran which they have discussed with the AFC officials. The daily also claimed that Doha has been chosen as a neutral venue for holding the match at the 2020 AFC Champions League Preliminary Stage Two.

Iran’s Persepolis and Sepahan have already secured their place in the group stage of the 2020 ACL while Esteghlal and Shahr Khodro have to play in the Preliminary Stage to advance to the group competitions.

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