Mon, 30 Nov, -0001
Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League 2016 matches involving clubs from Saudi Arabia and IR Iran will be played at neutral venues.
The AFC Competitions Committee decided in Doha in late January that the matches would be moved to neutral grounds if there had not been a return to normal relations between Saudi Arabia and IR Iran by March 15, 2016.
In a letter to both the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) and the IR Iran Football Federation (IRIFF), the AFC said: “It is most unfortunate for the AFC to learn that at the time of writing, the Saudi Arabian government has yet to lift the travel restrictions on their nationals, which prohibit travel to IR Iran. This travel ban offers no special dispensation for football teams.
“Furthermore, there has been no significant development in the relationship between the two countries concerned, which was considered the main factor according to the AFC Competitions Committee decision dated January 25, 2016.”
In January, the AFC Competitions Committee agreed to switch the matches between clubs from Saudi Arabia and IR Iran to the later stages of AFC Champions League to allow the AFC to obtain independent evaluations on the political, safety and security situation in both countries by the deadline of March 15, 2016.
The letter added that in order to have an in-depth understanding of the safety and security status of bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and IR Iran, the AFC took several steps in line with the requests of the AFC Competitions Committee.
Both the SAFF and the IRIFF have now been given until March 25, 2016 to provide comprehensive details of the proposed neutral venues for the remaining games.