Iran FC Sepahan Fined Over Canceled Asian Champions League
The Asian Football Confederation has slapped Iran FC Sepahan with a fine of $200,000 and awarded Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad with a 3-0 win over a cancelled Asian Champions League match last month. The Saudi team staged a walk out on October 2 over presence of the late General Qassem Soleimani outside the entrance tunnel and sidelines.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry had tried to downplay the incident saying an agreement had been reached for the match to be played at a later date. However, the AFC ruled that Al Ittihad be awarded a 3-0 win and a fine for Sepahan.
The Iranian FC has also been banned from hosting the next three Asian Champions League matches in Iran.
Fair Play for Asian Champions League
The penalty and fine reflects the AFC’s keenness to implement the rules of fair play and prevent any political interference in football. But the decision hasn’t gone down well with FC Sepahan. The Iranian football club is set to file an official complaint with the AFC challenging its disciplinary action.
The AFC in its ruling said Sephan created an unsafe and unstable security environment within the Stadium which led to the cancellation of the match. It said the club did not act in a political neutral manner, and noted that the match would be counted as a Sepahan forfeit. “Sepahan is warned that it should remove the relevant statue and banners from the stadium in Isfahan and that any repeat violation may be met with more severe punishment.”
In its defense, Sepahan said it does not consider the AFC’s decision to be correct in any way and plans to appeal.
Iran Remembers Qasem Soleimani
The Iran government’s attachment of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad in 2020, runs deep. The Iranian regime had vowed severe revenge on America for the General’s killing.
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council had said the US assassination of Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds force, the foreign arm of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, prompted 13 revenge scenarios.
The US embassy was also vandalized in Baghdad by Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite militias.