Iran to lodge complaint to AFC against Saudi football clubs
The president of Iran Football League Organization says it plans to file a complaint to the Asian Football Confederation against a number of Saudi football clubs after they announced they will not play against Iranian teams in the country, Press TV reported.
According to AFC statutes "political interests should not be extended into the realm of sports," Mehdi Taj said.
Article 3 of AFC's statutes states that discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.
The remarks come as Saudi Arabian al-Hilal, al-Nassr and al-Ahli professional football teams have declared that they will not compete against Iranian clubs in Iran, and want their matches to be staged somewhere else.
Taj added, "Saudi teams have previously raised such issues. Al-Hilal officials once alleged that Iranian spectators had chanted racist slogans during their game against Persepolis at Azadi Stadium (in Tehran). Another time, they claimed that the water bottles distributed at (Isfahan's) Foolad Shahr Stadium had been spiked, and kicked up a hullabaloo."
Saudi Arabian clubs have been drawn with the Iranian teams in the AFC Champions League.
Al-Hilal and al-Nassr are planned to take on Iran's Tractor Sazi Tabriz and Zob Ahan football clubs. Al-Ittihad and al-Ahli are also expected to meet Foolad Khuzestan and Naft Tehran football clubs.
On Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced the severing of diplomatic relations with Iran following Tehran's strong condemnation of the execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.