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Iran to play three home soccer matches in fan-free stadium: AFC

Iran was banned from playing in front of home fans in its three future international games, Mehr News Agency quoted the Asian Football Confederation as saying Wednesday, IRNA reported from Tehran.

Following the crowd trouble during Iran-North Korea qualifier in the 100,000-seater Azadi Stadium on Nov 12, the AFC's Disciplinary Committee also issued its verdict and named Iran 3-0 winner.

The confederation also punished DPR Korea as Jordan was declared the 3-0 winner for Korea's refusal to issue visas.

The AFC's ban on Iran means it is forced to play three 2006 World Cup preliminaries at home in a stadium without spectators.

North Korea walked off the pitch of Azadi Stadium, 10 km west of Tehran, in the 60th minute of its Asian Cup qualifier versus Iran when a firecracker was thrown onto the field, slightly injuring the Korean midfielder Su Hyok Chol.

According to Davoud Abedi, a reporter of Iranian News Channel, talking live on TV from the stadium, the injured Korean player was rushed to (Farabi) hospital.

He added the AFC will announce Korea the 3-0 winner if the doctors confirm the footballer has been seriously injured and Iran will be the winner with the same result if the player had feigned injury.

Later, Sadeq Doroudgar, an executive official of Iran's Football Federation, who was present in the hospital quoted Dr Mirzaei as saying that the player has no physical problem and his vision has not been damaged and he had feigned.

Iran was ahead 1-0 in the second leg as veteran skipper Ali Daei converted a penalty three minutes before the incident.

The Group D-bound Iran handed North Korea a 3-1 defeat in their first-leg match in Pyongyang on Oct 29.

Talking to IRNA, the Bundesliga-bound Mehdi Mahdavikia condemned the unsporting behavior of the hooligans.

The popular right winger of Hamburg, who was named the AFC Player of the Year for 2003 on Dec 10, added such an event never takes place in Germany and the fans are allowed in most of the stadiums to sit off the pitch and watch the games.

"If the match continued, we scored more," regretted the fast-paced Mahdavikia, adding "but unfortunately a hooligan hurled a firecracker onto the field, giving the Koreans the necessary excuse to quit the pitch."

Houshang Nassirzadeh, an Iranian refereeing expert, said Iran will be surely fined.

According to the regulations of world football's governing body, FIFA, Iran will be most likely banned from hosting the games, he told IRNA.

The result of Iran-North Korea match will be decided by the reports of the referee and supervisor, said Nassirzadeh adding the judges and organizing officials found the conditions suitable for holding the international game but North Korea abandoned.

If the (Syrian) referee points to this fact in his report to the AFC, Iran will be undoubtedly announced the winner with a 3-0 victory. Iran's "Referee of the Year 2003", Massoud Moradi said Iran will be the winner.

In his talks with IRNA, the AFC Referee of the Year for 2003 added, "Based on FIFA's rules, North Korea did not reserve the right to walk out and Iran is certainly the 3-0 winner."

... Payvand News - 12/11/03 ... --

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