Iranian clubs may quit AFC Champions League over home game ban

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BBC – TEHRAN, Iran’s four teams in the Asian Football Confederation Champions League say they will refuse to play if they cannot host home games, says the Mehr news agency.

Football’s governing body in Iran has claimed the confederation (AFC) had banned its teams from staging fixtures in the country.

It said the AFC wanted fixtures involving Iranian teams to take place at neutral venues.

The move comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States.

The Iranian football federation said it would announce a “final position” in the “following days”.

Iran has four teams – Persepolis, Esteghlal, Sepahan and Shahr Khodro – in the AFC Champions League, and they are expected to be consulted on Saturday.

However, the Mehr news agency said the clubs will send a joint letter to the AFC to say they will drop out if they cannot host games.

Persepolis and Esteghlal insisted they were in the “safest country in the Middle East”.

Before the meeting, Persepolis chief executive Mohammad Hassan Ansarifard told the Mehr news agency the club will “certainly not participate” in the new Champions League season “if they insist on their decision”.

Amir Mehdi Alavi, a spokesman for the Iranian football federation, said: “Iran has the full readiness to host teams and has proven this repeatedly in recent years.”

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