‘Tehran has sharply criticized the decision by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to move matches set to take place in Iran to the UAE, describing the venue change as politically motivated.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, condemned the confederation’s actions as “unprofessional,” local media reported on Wednesday. “As we examine it we realize this has become a political issue,”Vaezi added.
The AFC announced that Champions League games scheduled to be hosted by Iranian teams Shahr Khodro (against Bahrain’s Riffa) and Esteghlal (against Kuwait SC) on Tuesday had been re-scheduled to January 25, and would be moved to the United Arab Emirates “because of ongoing security concerns and the decision of several governments to issue travel warnings” to Iran.
According to the Iran football federation’s website, four clubs competing in the tournament have vowed to not play their matches if they are prevented from hosting games in their country. Also, Tehran promised to file a complaint with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, local media reported citing the deputy sports minister.
Several states issued travel warnings to Iran in the beginning of January, as the situation in the region escalated after a US drone strike killed top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.’