Al-Ittihad's AFC Champions League Match Canceled Due To Qasim Soleimani Statue

By: Sandipan Ghosh Image credit: X

On Monday (October 2), the AFC Champions League match between the Iranian hosts Sepahan and the defending Saudi Pro League champions Al-Ittihad was canceled due to a pitch-side statue.

Al-Ittihad is now famous in the soccer world since the joining of French stars Karim Benzema and N'Golo Kanté, Portuguese winger Jota, etc.

The Saudi Pro League club refused to play the AFC Champions League Group Stage match due to a statue of Qasem Soleimani in the Sepahan's home venue Naghsh-e Jahan Stadium.

Qasem Soleimani was an Iranian military commander. In 2018, Soleimani and other senior commanders of the Quds Force have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia.

Previously, since 2016, matches between Iranian and Saudi Arabian clubs were scheduled on neutral territory due to security concerns over rising tensions between the two countries.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will now conduct a review to look into the incident. In the official statement, the AFC claimed that the match "was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances."

Although Nuno Espirito Santo-managed Al-Ittihad even announced the starting line-up for the away match against Sepahan, the club ultimately decided to not play the game after seeing the statue.

Close to 60000 fans were disappointed with that match cancellation. Moreover, some of Sepahan's fans were also reportedly angry to see the pitch-side statue.

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