Interview by Farrokh Hesabi

Foolad ask AFC to change venue in Saudi Arabia

April 2, 2021 - 17:30

TEHRAN - Iranian club, Foolad Khuzestan have asked the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to change the venue of their AFC Champions League (ACL) play-off match against the UAE’s Al-Ain due to the security concerns.

The match is due to take place on April 10 at Prince Faisal Bin Fahad Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. However, the Iranian club have voiced their concerns to the AFC through the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) over the recent safety and security matters in Saudi’s capital city.

Saeid Azari, general manager of Foolad Khuzestan club, believes that given the seriousness of the incidents that took place in Riyadh, the match must be held in a secure venue.

“Based on the international media reports, we have been informed that Riyadh has been attacked by rockets just in recent days. So, we are very worried about the security condition of the host city and our request is that due to the current confusion on the ground, the venue of our match against Al Ain to be moved to another safe and secure one,” Azari said in an exclusive interview with Tehran Times.

“It's the best solution for both teams,” he added. “It's the most logical solution given that security has to be the number one priority. We hope that the AFC will work on choosing the most suitable alternative venue for the match.

“it's necessary to mention that in the 2019 ACL, the match between Iran’s Zob Ahan against Saudi’s Al Nassr, which had initially been scheduled to be played in Karbala City in Iraq, was postponed and moved to another neutral venue in Dubai, UAE just because of the missile attacks on another city of Iraq, namely Baghdad,” Foolad GM added.

“The Asian Football Confederation has always put the safety and security of all stakeholders at the center of all its decisions. We appreciate the AFC to evaluate our request and to take into account the safety situation in the region to make the best decision in this regard.” Azari concluded.

Esteghlal, the other Iranian representative in the 2021 AFC Champions League, are also scheduled to play their Group C matches in Jaddah, Saudi Arabia in a centralized format. The question is whether the Blues will also request the AFC to change their host city to a safer one or not.

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