Iranian clubs to file complaint with CAS over AFC’s decision

TEHRAN, Jan. 21 (MNA) – The four Iranian participating clubs in AFC Champions League will lodge a complaint with Court of Arbitration for Sport against the Asian Football Confederation over its decision to ban Iranian teams from hosting their Asian rivals in Iran.

Mahdi Alinejadi, deputy Sports Minister, said that the Iranian clubs will prepare a complaint and follow it up through the channel of Iranian Football Federation in the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the AFC.

He said that officials will try to obtain a temporary order to remove the ban, adding that international talks and lobbies are simultaneously underway to solve the problem.

AFC’s Competitions Committee has announced that Iranian teams in the 2020 ACL should host their rivals in a neutral venue, citing security concerns as a reason behind the decision. The measure sparked harsh criticism from fans and officials in Iran who believe it to be mainly political.

Following strong protests, the AFC took a step back and announced that the ACL Preliminary Stage matches would be held in neutral venues and the body will later reconsider the hosting capabilities of Iran in the group stage. Esteghlal and Shahr Khodro should play rivals in the Preliminary State while Sepahan and Persepolis have already secured places in the group stage.

In a letter to AFC published on Monday, the clubs announced that they will only participate in the tournament if the Asian Football Confederation officially declares that they can host their rivals in the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Some experts evaluate AFC’s new suggestion as a trap. They say the AFC can later repeat claims about Iran’s security and issue the same ruling which will then result in heavier fines and consequences for Iran’s football. They believe the Iranian teams should obtain an official guarantee for hosting rivals in the home or withdraw from the tournament as soon as possible.

“Any Participating Club that withdraws less than thirty (30) days before its first Match shall be fined at least USD 20,000,” reads the ACL regulations. “The AFC Disciplinary and Ethics Committee may impose further sanctions in its discretion.”

This is while withdrawal from the event after the commencement of the group stage will lead to at least USD 50,000 of fine plus two years ban on participating in the event and some other probable sanctions by the Executive committee.

Reporting by Mohammad Ali Haqshenas

MAH/4831035

News Code 154780

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