Al-Ittihad’s Asian Champions League match with Iran’s Sepahan was referred to as off on Monday after the Saudi workforce refused to go away their dressing room.
The Saudi facet, managed by former Wolves and Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo and that includes star gamers N’Golo Kante and Fabinho, have been against a statue of an assassinated Iranian common being positioned on the entrance to the pitch.
About 60,000 followers have been within the Naghsh-e Jahn Stadium in Isfahan, Iran, on the time awaiting kick-off.
Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia imply that matches between golf equipment from the 2 nations had beforehand been performed on impartial territory since 2016 as a consequence of safety issues.
The Asian Soccer Confederation (AFC) mentioned the sport had been “cancelled as a consequence of unanticipated and unexpected circumstances”.
“The AFC reiterates its dedication in the direction of guaranteeing the protection and safety of the gamers, match officers, spectators, and all stakeholders concerned,” the physique mentioned in a press release.
“This matter will now be referred to the related committees.”
The statue was of Iranian army commander Qasem Soleimani. He was killed close to Baghdad airport in a United States drone strike in January 2020.
Saudi Arabia designated Soleimani and different senior commanders of the Quds Power, the abroad operations arm of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, as terrorists in 2018.
The Saudis held Soleimani liable for Iran’s regional actions and accused them of assaults on Gulf transport, on Saudi oil installations and of help for Houthi rebels in Yemen who’ve attacked Saudi cities. Iran denied this.
This season has seen the return of Saudi golf equipment to Iran for the primary time since 2016, when a gaggle of hardline Iranian militiamen referred to as the Basij – a part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
After that, groups from Saudi Arabia refused to journey to Iran for any worldwide sports activities competitors, saying their safety was not assured.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr have been the primary Saudi facet to play in Iran this season after they beat Persepolis final month in an Asian Champions League match.