Iran, S. Arabia football dilemma remains unsolved

June 30, 2021 - 14:52

TEHRAN – Iran’s Esteghlal football team must host Al Hilal in a neutral venue in the 2021 AFC Champions League Round of 16, however the Iranian team are reluctant to meet the Saudi Arabian team in a neutral venue.

Esteghlal traveled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in April for the centralized Group A matches for the first time since 2016 and at that time it seemed the two countries would be willing to restore the relationship.

However, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has asked Iran’s Esteghlal and Saudi Arabian Al Nassr, who will have to play Iran’s Tractor, to name a neutral venue until July 7.

Esteghlal insist Al Hilal should travel to Iran as they accepted to travel to the country for the group stage matches.

In 2016, the AFC ordered the countries’ clubs had to play in neutral grounds if there had not been a return to normal relations between two countries.

On Thursday, the Round 3 of the 2022 World Cup qualifications will be drawn in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Iran and Saudi Arabia could be drawn in a same group.

Now the question is: What does the AFC want to do?

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