The Asian Champions League football clash between Saudi Arabian and Iranian sides has been postponed. It occurred as a result of the former Iranian major general Qassem Soleimani’s Bust standing at the pitch’s entry.
Al-Ittihad and Sepahan were to have faced off on Monday, but the match was put off after the Saudi players stayed in the changing room. The Naghsh-e Jahan Stadium in Isfahan, Iran, was chosen as the venue for the game.
The Quds Force, a specialized division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was under the supervision of Soleimani. Until he was killed by a US drone strike 44 month ago, he had a crucial role in overseeing Iran’s operations against terrorism throughout the Middle East.
“The AFC reiterates its commitment towards ensuring the safety and security of the players, match officials, spectators, and all stakeholders involved,” the Asian Football Confederation stressed in an announcement following the cancellation of the match. The AFC referred the issue to relevant committee for making decision.
He led Iranian attempts to affect events all around the area, earning him the nickname “shadow commander” at times. Operations were supervised by the Quds force in nations including Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Although the Saudis perceive him as a significant architect of Iranian strategy, the Iranian regime sees him as a national icon.
A bust of Soleimani was installed after the gate to the football field, according to images posted on social media.
In the past few weeks, Tehran and Riyadh have worked to reduce hostilities. Despite this, the two sides’ relationships are still quite tense. After seven years of playing in third-party stadiums, Saudi Arabia and Iran declared an agreement to restart home-and-away games between club teams. The controversy comes only a month after that announcement.
The unexpected accord arranged by China was the latest indication of reconciliation. The longstanding enemies reached an agreement in March to mend their diplomatic ties and restart their respective embassies after a 7-year break.
On September 19, a game involving Cristiano Ronaldo’s Saudi side Al Nassr took place in Tehran. It had been seven years since a Saudi club had last competed in Iran.
Due to safety issues, previous contests between teams from Iran and Saudi Arabia were held in neutral place.