January 22, 2020
Two Iranian football clubs’ AFC Champions League preliminary round matches have been moved to a neutral country because of security fears, Asia football’s governing body announced Wednesday.
The Asian Football Confederation said the ties — Shahr Khodro FC of Iran v Riffa of Bahrain and Iran’s Esteghlal FC v Kuwait SC — will now be played in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, January 25.
Both the matches were scheduled to be played in Iran on Tuesday but were postponed and “moved to neutral venues because of ongoing security concerns and the decision of several governments to issue travel warnings to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said an AFC statement.
Tensions were raised earlier this month by the killing of an Iranian army general by a US drone strike in Iraq.
Iran’s armed forces subsequently shot down a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 in error soon after take-off from Tehran, killing all 176 people on board.
The four football teams representing Iran in the AFC Champions League — Esteghlal, Persepolis, Sepahan and Shahr Khodro — have all threatened to boycott the competition if they are banned from hosting matches.