‘Why Al-Ittihad refused to take to field for ACL tie vs Sepahan’

Al-Ittihad’s Asian Champions League clash against Iranian side Sepahan was cancelled after the Saudi Arabian team refused to come out of the tunnel.

The Saudi Pro League team were scheduled to take on Sepahan in the Iranian city of Isfahan on Monday.

The Jeddah club travelled to Iran and arrived in the stadium ahead of kick-off but it has been reported that the players refused to come out of the tunnel and instead headed back to the airport without the game going ahead.

The Saudi team’s boycott is reportedly sparked by a bust of former Iranian military officer Qasem Soleimani which stood outside the tunnel.

The relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been strained over a wide range of political issues and Soleimani, who was killed by a United States airstrike in 2020, was sanctioned by the Barack Obama administration for his alleged role in a plot assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US in 2011.

Saudi champions Al-Ittihad headed into the match looking for a second straight win in the Champions League, having beaten OKMK in their first game of the competition.

Sepahan, meanwhile, were aiming for their first win in the tournament after opening their campaign with a 2-2 against Al Quwa Al Jawiya.

Al-Ittihad have reportedly left the stadium and are headed back to Saudi Arabia, with the match being cancelled as a result. It is unknown whether or not it will be replayed or if this is viewed as a forfeit by the Saudi side.


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