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Iran Banned From Hosting International Soccer Matches

01/18/20

Source: RFE/RL

Iranian teams have been banned from playing international matches on Iranian soil, the Islamic republic's football federation said on January 17.  It said the decision was made by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and announced in a letter.

Iranian football officials did not say if the decision was related to the accidental shoot-down of a Ukrainian jetliner last week, which killed all 176 people on board.

The AFC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The semiofficial Mehr news agency quoted federation spokesman Amirmahdi Alavi as saying, "Iran is fully ready to host various teams as it has repeatedly proven during the past several years."

Alavi gave as an example Iran's hosting of the 2018 AFC Champions League final at Azadi Stadium in the capital, Tehran, and added that the country's Sports Ministry has provided the required security guarantees to the AFC.

The federation said it would meet with AFC officials to express its opposition to the decision.

Iran has four teams in the AFC Champions League.

Last season, Saudi teams did not travel to Iran because Iran and Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations in 2016. The games between Saudi and Iranian teams were played in the United Arab Emirates.

With reporting by AP



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